Facebook Instant Articles: 5 Things You Need to Know

Facebook Instant Articles Infographic
Facebook Instant Articles is a new feature for web publishers from Facebook. Here’s a run down of the 5 things that you need to know.

1. Shows Articles Within the Facebook Mobile App

Traditionally, when a user clicked an article that you posted to your Facebook page, they would go to your website to view the article. With Facebook Instant Articles, when a user clicks on one of your articles from within the Facebook Mobile App, they are shown the article within the Facebook Mobile App.

Key Points

  • Works on iPhone and Android devices.
  • Is seemless for users
  • Is up to 10 times faster than content served through a mobile browser (Facebook accomplishes this by buffering the content before the user clicks it and by not having to render your site, just the article content).
  • The Facebook App shows a small lightning bolt icon in the top right of the article’s featured image if the article is available via Instant Articles.
  • Desktop and browser (non app) users will continue to be directed to your website.

2. Requires your Site to Have a Custom Feed

Rather than submitting your articles to Facebook, with Facebook Instant Articles, Facebook will regularly pull your feed and automatically add new articles to your Facebook page.

Key Points

  • Facebook pulls from your feed, you no longer need to push your articles to Facebook
  • The Instant Articles Feed format is based on RSS but requires certain non-standard elements (a standard RSS feed won’t work).

3. There’s a WordPress Plugin For It!

A couple of weeks ago (March 7th, 2016), Automattic, the makers of WordPress launched a new Plugin called Facebook Instant Articles for WP. This plugin adds a special feed at /feed/instant-articles. You can submit this feed “endpoint” to Facebook when you enroll in Facebook’s Instant Articles program.

Key Points

  • You will need to install a special plugin (such as Facebook Instant Articles for WP) to add Facebook Instant Article support to your WordPress site.
  • Other CMS systems will likely have their own Facebook Instant Articles plugins. If you have any info about these, please post it to the comment section below.

4. Allows You to Serve Your Own Ads

Facebook wants to make Instant Articles a win for Facebook, its mobile app users and for the publishers generating the content. For this reason, they allow you to include your own ads within your feed.

Key Points

  • You can serve your own ads within the articles that you submit to Facebook Instant Articles.
  • Ads need to be submitted through your Instant Articles feed in a special format.
  • You can distribute your ad “tags” manually throughout your feed content or place your ad tags in the header to have Facebook place them throughout the article automatically.
  • AdPlugg is currently adding support for Facebook Instant Article feeds and intends to fully support them by the time Facebook launches the feature (see below for the release date).
  • If you don’t have your own ads, you can optionally choose to serve Facebook Audience Network ads within your articles.
  • There are some restrictions regarding the type of ad and the “ad density” (number of ads that you can display). See the official documentation for more info.
  • Some of the publishers already using Facebook Instant Articles have complained about ad revenue issues. Facebook is working to address those concerns.

5. Becomes available to all publishers on Apr 12th, 2016

Facebook Instant Articles is already in use by major publishers such as BuzzFeed and the Washington Post. On April 12th, 2016 Facebook Instant Articles becomes available to all publishers.

Key Points

  • Was launched for select major publishers on May 12th, 2015
  • Launch for all publishers is scheduled for April 12th, 2016

How To Try Facebook Instant Articles

Facebook Instant Articles Screenshot
To try out Facebook Instant Articles, do the following:

  • Open the Facebook app on your Android or iOS device.
  • Use the built in search to find and pull the official page for BuzzFeed or the Washington Post.
  • Click on any of the articles that have a lightning bolt in the top right corner of the article’s featured image.
  • Enjoy the lightning fast load time :).

Conclusion

Facebook Instant Articles is an exciting new feature that provides an enhanced experience for the user while allowing publishers to gain exposure and grow ad revenues.

AdPlugg is adding support for Facebook Instant Articles as we speak and we are tying the functionality into our WordPress Ad Plugin.

If you have any questions or comments about Facebook Instant Articles, AdPlugg’s support for them, or anything else; please post them to to the comments section below!


Infographic template design by Freepik.

How to Write a Blog

how-to-write-a-blog
So you want to know how to write a blog? We’ll, you’ve come to the right place. We work with thousands of bloggers and are bloggers ourselves. Not only that, we’ve studied what it takes to make a blog successful and have gained a lot of insight over the years; insight that we’d like to share with you in this post.

Let’s get the basics out of the way. Blog is short for web log. The act of writing and publishing a blog is called blogging. And someone who blogs is called a blogger.

A good way to think about a blog is as a public journal. Instead of writing in a paper notebook for only your own enjoyment and memory keeping, you write to a public website so that you can share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with others.

Of course, if you want to write in a journal, you need to have a journal of some sort to write in. Similarly, in order to blog, you need to have a blog. A blog is made up of these basic components:

  1. A Name (For example, “Jane’s Kitchen”)
  2. One or more authors (this could just be you or you could start a blog with your friends or family)
  3. A Subject/Topic (For example, Cooking). However, you can have your blog be simply about your life or just random musings, etc.
  4. A blogging platform
  5. A domain name (For example, “www.janeskitchen.com”)

Numbers 1 through 3 above are totally up to you. Numbers 4 and 5 take a bit of technical know-how.

A blogging platform is basically the journal that you write in. While there are a number of great blogging platforms out there, I unfortunately don’t have time to discuss them all in this post. I’ll save you the time of researching them and tell you that WordPress runs more blogs than all of the other blogging platforms combined. So unless you have special requirements, WordPress is probably the best way to go.

So what is WordPress? WordPress is simply a computer program that allows you to create, manage and publish blog posts…and it happens to be free. But you will need to host it (generally not free) in order to have it available on the internet.

Luckily, the same companies that can help you get a domain name (number 5 above) can host your WordPress site. A couple of good hosts/domain name registrars include: Bluehost, HostGator and GoDaddy.

Any stumbling blocks that you run into with setting up your site can be handled by your chosen hosting company’s support team.

Once your site is up and running, it’s time to start blogging. This is your time to shine. Here are some tips:

  • Try to pick blog topics that are interesting to both you and your readers.
  • Try to give each blog post a catchy headline.
  • Try to write at least one blog post a month (once a week is even better).
  • Try to add at least one picture to every blog post.
  • Make your blog personal. Even when reading about technical things, it’s more enjoyable to read content that has personality. Don’t worry about your grammer so much and instead make your blog fun and personal.

Have any questions or comments, please post them to the comment section below.

AdPlugg Scales!

AdPlugg ScalesAdPlugg has been growing like crazy. We now serve millions of ads every day and have thousands of customers who use the service. We’ve regularly been upgrading servers and our backend software to handle the increased load.

AdPlugg uses highly scalable cloud servers and CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) to make this all possible.

In addition to more customers in general, we’ve also added a number of larger and more high profile accounts. This includes the websites of some well known magazines, radio stations, tv stations and newspapers. Some of the more well known ones include the Fiesta Bowl, Wine Enthusiast and the BC Heights (the Student newspaper of Boston College).

As well as scaling up our backend systems to handle the increased load, we just released a number of new enhancements to our front end Ad Manager that make the user interface easier to use for large sites and accounts with complex configurations and a large number of ads.

We’ve added the ability to scroll through the list of ads when choosing your ads for your charts and reports. This feature turns on when you have more than 10 ads so that the list is easier to navigate.

We’ve added the ability to sort, search and filter the Ad, Placement and Zone lists. In addition, we added additional columns to each of these lists so that you can see things like which Placement an Ad is targeted to without opening the Ad.

Sortable

Each list now has a number of sortable columns. The ones that are sortable have blue links in the header row at the top of the list. Simply click the header to sort the list by the entries in the column. Click the list again to sort the list in reverse order. Click the list a third time to stop sorting by the column. If the column is a text column, it will be sorted alphabetically. If it is a number column, it will be sorted in numerical order.

Searchable

The search allows you to enter in any text and the list will be restricted to entries that mach that text. The text that is matched could be from any of the columns.

Filterable

We’ve also added a number of filters for each list. The filters allow you to restrict the entries shown in the list to entries matching the specific filter. For instance you can filter the results to only show active or inactive ads. You can also use a filter to only show ads that target a particular Placement or Zone. This way you can quickly see just the ads that target your top bar for example.

These features were designed to make AdPlugg even easier to use. Have any ideas for other features that we could add or how we could make these features better? Please post them into the comments section below.

Responsive Ads

responsive_ads
Last month we launched a whole slew of new ad formats. Mixed in among text ads, flash ads etc, were a number of responsive ad formats. In this blog post we are going to discuss these new responsive ad formats and how the web’s move to responsive is shaping online advertising now and into the future.

Responsive web design is a style of web design where the elements on the page are automatically resized to optimally fit different sized devices. Basically, the layout “responds” to the size of the device that it is being displayed on. Responsive design has been a significant trend over the last couple of years but was solidified when Google started including it as a ranking factor back in April of this year. This meant that if a site wasn’t responsive, Google was less likely to send traffic to it. This was a good move by Google because non-responsive websites are frustrating at best and totally unusable at worst on many devices.

Responsive web design has only just begun to penetrate the nearly two decade old standards for online advertising. Ads have always been based on fixed sizes, for example 300px by 250px. Fixed sizes however have little to no place in responsive web design. Text that is legible at 300px on a desktop computer may be totally illegible when scaled down to fit on a phone. One of the most important parts of responsive design is the resizing of text so that it is legible on all devices.

AdPlugg has addressed these issues with its new suite of responsive ad formats. Each responsive ad is designed to resize itself (and its text) for optimal display on devices of varying size. AdPlugg’s new responsive ad formats include:

  • Bar Ads – Bar ads can be displayed as a bar across the top or bottom of a page. Though they are especially well suited for mobile devices, they look great on full size screens too. View the Bar Ads demo.
  • Dialog Ads – Dialog ads are a modern responsive version of the “popup ad”. Much more stylish than its predecessor, and designed to perfectly fit any screen, this new format converts at high rates. View the Dialog Ads demo.
  • Slide-In Ads – Slide in ads are a responsive ad format where the message slides into view. They are made to slide in based on varying triggers and can slide in from any of the four corners of the screen. View the Slide In Ads demo.
  • Interstitial Ads – Interstitial ads are displayed before the page content is displayed and are designed to cover the entire screen. AdPlugg’s responsive interstitial ads perfectly cover, and look great, on any size screen. View the Interstitial Ads demo.
  • Responsive HTML5 Ads – The AdPlugg Custom ad format allows you to insert custom HTML/HTML5, JavaScript, CSS/CSS3, SVG etc. Using responsive techniques in your ad design, you can make your ad resize to look great on any screen size. View the Responsive HTML5 Ads demo.

There will surely be a lot of changes ahead as the web and online ads move into a more responsive and mobile friendly future. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Blogging for Money: Top 4 Reasons Why Your Blog Isn’t Making Any

Blogging for Money

Around a year ago I posted How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps. In that post, I gave five easy steps toward making money blogging. In this post, I’m going to look at it from the other side. So you are already blogging for money, what are the most common reasons why your blog isn’t making any of that green stuff?

1. You Need More/Better Content

Engaging, high-quality content is key for any blog. Write from the heart and pick topics that will be of interest to your intended readers. Don’t just write about what you want to say, also think about the reader and about what they might want to learn or hear about. It has also been found that sites with more content do best. If you are only blogging once a week, try stepping up the number of posts that you publish. It’s unfortunate, but two medium quality posts tends to outperform one high quality post.

2. Your Site Isn’t Search Engine Optimized

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a requirement at this point. The days of SEO being a science are over and now it’s more of an art. If you use WordPress, the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast is a good place to start. The Yoast Plugin will get your site optimized but getting quality backlinks from other sites is just as crucial.

3. You haven’t Done Enough Promoting

It’s pretty common to think that you can put up a website and instantly get tons of traffic. Even after having been through it before, everytime I launch a new website, I can’t help but think that this site is what everyone is looking for. The reality of it is that there are close to a BILLION websites out there. To get web users to take notice of your site takes some serious effort. Don’t know how to promote your blog? Check out our recent post, How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps.

4. You Need a Better Monetization Strategy

To be a monetarily succussful blogger, you need to know online advertising. The AdPlugg service makes it all a lot easier. Also check out these posts:

Have any questions or other items that you think should be included in this list? Post them into the comments section below!

Timed Rotate Feature Added

timed rotate

You asked for it you got it! We just added a new timed rotate feature. The timed rotate feature allows you to set your ads to rotate after a specified number of seconds.

Adding a timed rotate feature had become the highest ranked suggestion on our Feedback and Ideas Forum. Adhering to our Democratic Design principles, we’ve made it a top priority and are excited to be releasing it to you today!

How it Works

The timed rotate feature works basically the same as our other rotate configurations but with timed rotate, the ads rotate after a set number of seconds instead of on page refresh. Only the ads set to “timed rotate” will rotate, any other ads will stay put. The newly displayed ads will have their impressions tracked the same as if they were loaded after a refresh.

How to Set it Up

If you haven’t already done so, set up the ad rotator. In the placement settings you will see that we’ve added a new field called “Rotation Interval”. It’s under the “Content” heading. If this field is blank (the default), the ads are only rotated on refresh. To enable timed rotate, simply enter a number into this field. The number is the number of seconds that you want the rotator to wait before rotating the ads. The number can include decimals, so you could set your ads to rotate every 3.5 seconds, for instance. The minimum interval allowed is 1 second.

Please note that this function can dramatically increase your impression counts (and your bill) so use caution when enabling it and do carefully consider which ads you want to rotate and at what interval.

We hope that you enjoy the new feature. Please add any questions or comments about the feature to the comment section below.

If you don’t already have an AdPlugg account, Sign Up today and try out this awesome new feature!

Blog Income – How to Maximize

blog-income

Blog Income is easily one of the most crucial factors for measuring the success of any blog. To realize your blog’s full potential you need to:

  • Maximize the quality and frequency of blog content – Produce lots of quality content for your readers to read and for the search engines to index.
  • Maximize blog traffic – Efficiently and effectively promote your blog (see How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps).
  • Maximize blog income – Read on…

Blog Income Maximization

The goal of blog income maximization is to earn as much as you can from each unit of ad “inventory” on your site while keeping your site free of ads that might be off-putting or annoying to your readers.

To maximize your blog income, you need to look at all possible sources of income available to your blog. These potential sources of income include:

  • Display Ads
  • Text Based PPC Ads (Such as Google AdSense)
  • Affiliate Ads
  • Paid Links
  • Sponsored Posts

NOTE: See How Do Bloggers Make Money? for more details on the above blog income sources.

To maximize your blog income you’ll want to utilize all available channels and always go with the best paying channel (when you have a choice). You’ll also want to try to keep mindful of the user experience (UX) and keep your ads beneficial to the user and tasteful.

You’ll quickly find that display ads pay the best. Furthermore display ads where you’ve sold directly to the advertiser pay the best within the display ad channel (versus network ads).

So in general, to maximize your blog income you’ll want to sell as much of your ad inventory as possible to advertisers who will run targeted display ads on your site for a premium price. Ad inventory that hasn’t been sold directly can be filled with ads from other channels/sources. Our recent blog post, How to Get Advertisers for Your Blog – 4 Steps, teaches you how to get this type of advertiser.

Once you get the advertisers signed, you can manage and serve their ads with AdPlugg (it’s what AdPlugg was designed to do!). If you have AdPlugg Pro, you can then generate reports to send to your advertisers to keep them happy and excited to continue advertising with you.

Have questions or want to share what you did to maximize your blog income? Please use the comments section below.

How to Promote Your Blog – 5 Simple Steps

how-to-promote-your-blog,png

Overview

So, you’ve started a new blog…or you have an existing blog that hasn’t achieved as big of a readership as you would like. Well, in this post I’m going to show you how to promote your blog and grow your readership through five easy steps.

It should come as no surprise that most of these techniques involve social media. Social Media is a great way to be heard by a large audience. If you present yourself and your content effectively to the various social channels, you can drive large amounts of traffic to your blog. So let’s get stated…

1. Share Your Post on Facebook

Facebook is a great way to promote your blog. After you’ve published your new blog post, copy the url and open your facebook account. Just paste the url into the status update box and press the Post button. Facebook will automatically create a nice looking post including a picture (make sure you use pictures in your blog) and teaser text. This post will go out to all of your Facebook friends. You’ll be amazed how many of your friends will take a look and each like you get will promote the post to all of your friends’ friends.

2. Share Your Post on Twitter

Another great social platform for promoting your blog is Twitter. To promote your blog post to twitter, past the title of the blog post along with the URL. Also include hashtag keywords such as #football or #weddings, these hashtags will help your post be seen by more people.

3. Pin it on Pinterest

You should always have pictures in your blog post and if they are interesting, your should pin them on Pinterest! This is especially true if your blog targets women readers (68% of Pinterest users are women). There are some great plugins that put a “Pin It” link on all of your images. These plugins are usually free, easy to install, and make it easy for people to pin your stuff. You should also try to make and include infographics in your blog post. Infographics are very popular on Pinterest and are sure to get lots of pins. Lastly, you should pin all of the images in your post yourself to help get them started.

4. List Your Blog on Bloglovin

Bloglovin is a popular blog post aggregator. It allows people to follow your blog but also helps you promote your blog and makes it easy for people to find it. Getting your blog listed on bloglovin is free and easy to do.

5. Promote Your Post through Paid Services

If you have a budget that you are working with, you can pay to promote your blog post on major sites such as CNN and Mashable. Services such as Outbrain and Taboola allow you to pay to have your blog post show up in an “Around the Web” listing on major sites. This will quickly get you readers but can be very expensive.

Conclusion

So hopefully now you know how to promote your blog and increase your readership. If you have any questions, comments or other ideas; please post them in the comment section below.

How Much Money do Bloggers Make?

how-much-money-do-bloggers-makeHow much money do bloggers make? At AdPlugg, we work with a lot of bloggers – helping them to achieve monetary success with their blogs. Earlier this year we wrote about How to Make Money Blogging. In this post, we stated:

Did you know that it’s not uncommon for advertisers to pay $300 per month for an inch tall ad on the side of a blog. Get ten of those and you are making $36,000 a year to blog.

But how much money do bloggers make as a whole? How much on average do bloggers make? In this post we are going to work to provide some answers. As of today, AdPlugg has features for serving and managing ads, but does not yet have billing features. Once we do, we plan to offer anonymous statistics regarding average revenue etc. But for now, we’ll just report on what we know from experience and what we were able to find through research.

In 2010 Technorati published a study reporting that 36% of bloggers reported some sort of income from their blogs, most often in the form of ad revenue from display ads. A similar study from Technorati, published in 2009 reported the mean annual income from advertisements at $42,548. Does this mean that you can start a blog and instantly make $42,548 per year? Not really. Here are the major contributing factors to how much money your blog can make:

  • Subject – A blog about luxury cars may have a better earning potential than a blog about ant farms.
  • Audience Size – How many readers you have is directly related to how much you can earn. Advertisers won’t pay much for ads that only get in front of a couple of readers.
  • Influence – Becoming an influencer drives up the price of your ads. Advertisers will pay more to be on a blog that is a trusted source of information for their market.

Additional insight can be gleaned from the fact that $42.8 Billion was generated in online ad revenues last year (see U.S. Online Ad Revenues Hit $42.8B, Surpass Broadcast TV) and close to 20% of the web runs on WordPress.

Most bloggers start out blogging on the side and eventually switch to blogging as their full time profession. How much you can earn is up to your blog (see bullets above) but a well run blog can probably expect to bring in anywhere from $10k per year to upwards of $100k per year. If your blog becomes a runaway success (think mashable.com, gizmodo.com, huffingtonpost.com, etc) it can earn millions in ad revenues. Stay tuned for more as we work on surveys and reports to get the how much money do bloggers make? question answered more scientifically.

How to Get Advertisers for Your Blog – 4 Steps

How To Get Advertisers

Overview

Back in April we posted How to Make Money Blogging – In Six Easy Steps. That post walks you through everything that you need to know to get started making money blogging, with Step 6 being a brief introduction on how to get advertisers for your blog. In this post we are going to elaborate on that topic ( as promised ;) ).

As we mentioned in the How to Make Money Blogging post, it’s not uncommon to make $300 per month per ad for a small spot on your blog. And with 10 of those, you could be making $36,000 per year to blog! In order to get advertisers for your blog, your blog needs to have great content and a decent amount of traffic. We touched on this in Step 5 of the How to Make Money Blogging post and will expand upon it in a future post. For now, let’s assume that you have a quality blog that gets a decent amount of traffic.

As with most things, it is very uncommon to have someone just approach you and hands over cash. Every business needs to sell their products or services. Just as your advertisers need to promote their products or services in order to grow sales, you need to promote and sell your advertising services in order to increase your blog’s revenue. Setting up a blog about cars and waiting for Ford to email shows great optimism but is realistically not a very strong plan. You need to go out and get advertisers to be successful. Especially when you are just starting out. How you do this is similar to selling most products or services.

Step 1: Prospecting – How to Find Advertisers for Your Blog

How to get advertisers for your blog
Finding advertisers for your blog is the first step. In a traditional sales funnel/cycle this step is called “prospecting”. Here are some ways to find prospects:

  1. Find blogs similar to yours and see which companies are advertising on those blogs.
  2. Think about what products or services your readers might be interested in based on what your blog is about.
  3. Think of the products or services that you’ve blogged about in the past.
  4. Think about keywords that you target for your blog. Search for those keywords using Google and see who is advertising for them.
  5. Use Google Webmaster Tools to see what terms your blog is ranking for, then search for those terms in Google to see who is advertising on those keywords.

Note: If you are in the top 10 for a keyword that has a lot of advertisers on Google you can often use this as a major selling point to close the prospect. More on closing below.

It’s a good idea to stay organized. Store the prospects that you have discovered in a spreadsheet or better yet, use a CRM system such as SugarCRM.

Step 2: Contacting – Reaching Out to Your Prospects

These prospects are considered “cold”. This is a sales term meaning that they have not been contacted before. At this stage, your goal is to find the contact info of the person who makes decisions regarding advertising (“the decision maker”). This can often be done by reaching out to the company by phone or email.

Step 3: Presenting – Make Your Pitch

Once you have found the contact info of the decision maker, you need to present them with a proposal and typically an advertising rate card. With a quick Google search you can find examples of both.

Step 4: Closing – Seal the Deal

If the decision maker is interested (“hot”), you need to close the deal. This could involve having them sign a contract or just having them send you their ad and a payment through PayPal. Plan to follow up regularly to get the deal closed. Their are lots of good closing techniques but a particularly good one is to offer them a discount and let them know that it is only good until a fixed date (Friday for instance).

Conclusion

You now know how to get advertisers for your blog. This process can be fun and exciting. Don’t get discouraged if at first you don’t succeed; there are tons of great advertisers out there. Keep in mind that Colonel Sanders was rejected 1009 times before finding a taker for his chicken recipe. Just keep adding prospects and working through the steps.

Have questions or comments? Please add them to the comment section below.