When we think where is best to advertise, we think first of the places we know and go to. Some of the cyber-communities I frequent include:
- /. – Slashdot is too technoid and nerdy and suffers from associated, intense fixations
- digg – not bad, but there are already-formed clans that vote together and promote their own members; it is very difficult to get through with an article; also, a certain right-wing orientation
- reddit – there seems to be a leftist approach to doing things; the community is dominated by sex and weird news
- facebook – this one’s way too controlled; despite the strict rules and limitations, many people figured out how to game it with automated accounts and it seems to be inundated by advertisers even now, when US is still more or less in a slump
- mybloglog , blogcatalog – based on the same “proof of visit” idea, to me these services seem rather childish and social failures
Based on Graham Langdom’s idea, the Entrecard distinction is that though they are trying to have a strong community, they are essentially an advertising exchange market. Some rules are not that straight-forward, and here I’ll describe what I could make of it after using it for 2-3 days.
So, what is this about and what do you eat it with? Glad you asked.
1. Getting started
You start by applying for membership and installing a “card” on your site. The application process is a bit tedious and detail-oriented, but that’s life. You don’t know how long it will be until your site gets approved, but from my own experience and what I’ve read elsewhere, it takes 2-3 days. During this time, the Entrecard code must be working on your website. You have the opportunity to create your own 125x125 px card, which you should have had already if you have a working site with a logo & favicon. You can certainly make something different and snazzy if you choose to do so.
2. Getting Credits
Though advertising on the Entrecard network is essentially a bartering exchange, it is facilitated through the use of “credits”. You get 200 when you register. I wonder if you get 200 more for each blog you add – if not, it makes sense to have a separate account for each blog. You get more credits by visiting other Entrecard blogs (from the Campaign menu) and “dropping” your card there. There is a limit of 300 credits / day you can get, and some people consistently reach it, suggesting the use of automated scripts. Because some blogs prefer to manually approve ads, they have a waiting time measured in days. If you schedule well, you could have ads running for an entire week, every day, in one go.
Other ways to obtain credits involve ads placed on your side by paying customers or your own activities in the “credits market”, which is the equivalent of derivatives on the web. You have to allow other marketers to do all kinds of things to you and that is something I do not like.
3. Getting Advertised
Here’s how About explains it:
To advertise on another site in the Entrecard network, you'll have to pay with credits in an amount equal to twice the number of cards dropped off on that site each day. In other words, if 10 cards are dropped off on that site each day, you'll have to pay that user 20 Entrecard credits to place your ad on that site. Remember, each ad you pay for is displayed for 24-hours. You can pay for as many 24-hour units that you want, however, each site can only have 9 ad units in its queue.
If facts make you dizzy, here’s the subjective part, which might, if you give it a chance, fill you up with power.
1. Ze Good
What is noteworthy is that although there are a lot of critics and naysayers, Entrecard gives you an opportunity to discover up and coming blogs and network with them. Though others may not see it as such and milk it for all that it’s worth, there is nothing preventing YOU from using it the way it’s intended, i.e., building relationships and interacting with other bloggers on their blogs. You might “waste” more time going slowly, but on the upside, your success will be far more solid when it comes – provided that you keep at it, of course. Here’s how popularwealth describes their results:
The only investment in using Entrecard is time, the service is free financially. Dropping 300 cards a day resulted in an average of 41 visits a day directly from my entrecard profile and an additional 14 visits a day from advertising. I split the credits evenly with 50% spent towards ads on expensive and established sites and 50% on cheap ad spaces. Sites with widgets above the fold gave me the best returns, otherwise the two groups delivered roughly the same traffic volume in total. My test concluded that my logo delivers 55 visitors per day.
My time is valuable – is Entrecard worth it?
Purchasing 55 TARGETED visitors per day through ppc advertising like adwords would cost roughly 17.50 a day. Since my only cost with entrecard is time and I value that at 25.00 an hour minimum I can afford to spend about 45 minutes per day on Entrecard. But wait – the traffic isn’t targeted is it? No, it’s not. The final bounce rate for this experiment after 10 days was 84.45%, roughly 3 times higher than the site average. Remember that even untargeted traffic has “branding” value and that these visitors may feel comfortable on your site if they recognize it later on. That being said – I’d need to cut my time spent on entrecard to 20 minutes per day maximum to maintain my minimum time value.
I plan to make a habit of visiting those who drop or advertise on my site and try to read an article, leave a comment, strike up a conversation. I’ll have a look at the forums as well, but the keyword is time-permitting.
2. Ze Bad
There are numerous reviewers who complain about 1) E being a timewaster and 2) the traffic being low quality. While it is true that you will have to spend some time at least understanding what is going on, you don’t have to spend all that much time. Nobody is forcing you to approve ads (rather silly, if you ask me), you can leave it on autopilot. This is simply a tool, not a miracle, so it’s only natural that you’ll be wasting some time with it before it works the way you want it to. As for the traffic, it’s only natural that your bounce rate will increase – but is that really something to complain about? These are people who come to visit your site and hopefully most of them are doing it manually, not with automated scripts. If your site is new and / or unknown, this is a quick way to get noticed. If 100 visitors drop their cards and only one actually reads your blog and comments, isn’t that one more reader you have gotten for free?
3. Ze Fugly
The service and the rules behind it seem quite complex and the complexity is increasing. My stats after 2 days, and I could click a link for more as well:
They now have a market where you can advertise and purchase credits for services. New functionality may enhance user experience and may be empowering, but often times it simply increases alienation while decreasing user satisfaction. While getting to know the rules, I had to stop a few times to pick up pieces of my exploded skull off the floor.
There seems indeed to be a little too much in the way of rules and regulations and a (perhaps rational) tendency on the part of administrators to mitigate abuses and shortcomings with even more rules. This opens the door to draconian enforcement and dissatisfied users. It remains to be seen if Entrecard will manage to stay on top of the situation.