The ad revenue sharing plan is a big part of Newsvine's value proposition and speaks to the biggest hurdle the site will face: attracting a critical mass of passionate users.
Right now, the site is sparsely populated by a group of early adopters. (Traffic on beta launch day did exceed 100,000 page views, which is remarkable.) Getting user attention in the fragmented media marketplace will be difficult at best, as a recent report from the Carnegie Corporation of New York shows (to cite one example among hundreds).
Despite its beautiful design and robust features, newsvine.com doesn't offer any features that a dedicated Web user couldn't find distributed elsewhere on the Web. Bloggers can already share ad revenue using Google AdSense on their own sites, and they can comment on the news on their own blogs.
Even if Newsvine manages to attract enough users, they still need to attract those who will make positive contributions. As Dan Gillmor noted recently, participants need incentives. Otherwise, they'll visit, read, and leave.
It's not enough, on the Web, to offer a clean, well-lit place to read the news. If Newsvine is to be a successful news organization -- not just a technology company -- then they will need to invest in columnists, editors, and personalities. And they'll need to tend their garden of contributors very, very closely
Even at inception (though I wasn't a beta user), Newsvine used ad generated revenue but it was apparently criticized as being "nothing new"and suspected as eventually falling short of goal having to resort to being a digital newspaper. The write up was short sighted and overall too skeptical for my taste, but I wasn't really paying attention to the 'meat' of it.
Newsvine's ad schema didn't have to be new, it just had to be 'a better mouse trap' as it were . In this case, the Google Ads that people post on their private blogs fail in comparison mainly due to the dynamics of Google AdSense. A user generates revenue yes, but in order to be highly effective they must also participate in AdWords. Throw into the mix the need to also have a large user base and a private user can easily flounder and generate little to no money or actually OWE money for advertising. It's the nature of the beast for sure, but there was obviously a better way to do it so that the participants could bring in decent money without fear of owing money or having to monitor yet another aspect of their blog.
Newsvine provided a highly visible, well trafficked, and well reputed site that serves as a central hub for its users to communicate with each other and the world. Newsvine is in charge of what ads get placed where. Users receive some of the revenue from that as a reward for well noticed pieces that attract traffic to the site. It is clearly a win / win.
Still, the last sentence of the excerpt is something that I'm finding to be very, very true.
"Newsvine will have to tend it's garden very, very closely"
The author was talking more about making sure that the concept wouldn't fall on its face, but that's been done and Newsvine blew up at an alarming rate, especially for how unique the site is. But now new challenges await and I feel that I've begun to notice a trend.
Affiliate Selling as a Newsvine Exploit.
For those who are unfamiliar with Affiliate selling here is a summary of a book on the topic:
Discover how you can take advantage of the most rapidly growing form of e--commerce. Created by Amazon.com in 1996 as a way of generating sales through referrals from linked Web sites, affiliate selling has quickly mushroomed into one of the biggest sources of e--commerce revenue. In fact, experts predict that, within the next few years, affiliate sales will account for as much as 25 percent of all retail e--commerce. A major reason for this is that anyone with a Web site can start earning commissions by becoming an affiliate, and directing visitors to other sites that actually sell something. Written by pioneering experts in the field, this comprehensive guide clearly shows how to plan, implement, and manage a successful affiliate program on the Web. Helmstetter and Metivier detail the various types of affiliate programs and explain how to choose one that fits your goals. Individuals will learn where to register for free Web pages, how to build a virtual storefront, and how to add affiliate links to their sites. Merchants will discover how to start an affiliate program, extend their marketing reach, utilize third--party tools, and much more. Get hands--on advice and guidance on how to: Select the right affiliate program Implement the required technologies Manage content development Analyze traffic trends and drive traffic to a site Avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes Maximize commissions by refining the product mix, placement, and display
This is where Newsvine comes into play.
Newsvine is both popular and massive. It features ads from well known sites and companies and pays its users for content. So, then how does one exploit this?
Well, when a user creates an account and writes an article or seeds a link, Newsvine places an ad on that user's content. Several users, who I'll list below, will use a seeded link to a personal blog or site with ads that generate revenue when someone visits, and then the content generally leads to either a pay site or produces a pop-up (at least it wants to produce a pop-up). This seems to me like the 'user' is gathering revolving revenue. And, while technically it isn't a crime to operate in this manner, it's actually pretty slick, it does violate the user agreement in that the 'users' are linking back to their own content outside of Newsvine and that the content falls under advertising, a reportable infraction.
So far, I've discovered:
– 11 seeds (at the time of writing this) – each leading to pornographic material. Yes, I've been to a couple of the seeded links to figure out if naming this 'user' was valid. Their links lead to a Blogger page which features material that in order to see, you've got to 'download a missing codec' for a fee. Also if I could understand the page code better (because it's sloppy as hell) I could tell you that there are pop-up generators and ad generators as well as tracking things, as I'm sure I caught a few lines of this kind of code, but it was all very jumbled and I'm somewhat of a novice when it comes to code.
– 1 seed (at the time of writing this) – leading to a WordPress Blog featuring a jumble of Affiliate Marketing "things"… it's really a confusing site – technically speaking. I mean, I know what it is, but its layout makes little sense (as most Affiliate Marketing sites don't' make sense on a dev level, they have a load of disorganized info on a page and throw it in your face)
-1 seed (at the time of writing this) – at least this one is honest "I'm an internet marketer".
-1 article, 4 seeds (at the time of writing this). The one article he did write falls into a loophole on Newsvine. You can't write an article on another site and link to it from Newsvine but you can post and article on Newsvine and then post the same article on another site provided Newsvine got the post first. RHALL27 at least posted his first article as an original, and then goes a few seeds alter and seeds the same article from his personal site – a site devoted to using AdWords to make money…nice.
-35 seeds (at the time of writing this) – Most of the seeds here link back to ads. Not pop-up ads, but service ads on a page, mainly SEO stuff. Other seeds link straight to things like Shakira Lyrics and pics or a page that displays the area codes for all major cities in the US. These are things that we can easily find on our own but presented under the presumable guise of 'informing the Newsvine user base of a service". My ass… all of the seeded links go to pages with Google Ads…
-1 seed (at the time of writing this) – Only one seed, and it links to another service ad page, but not with Google Ads…
These are just a few examples of people I've found over the course of three weeks and only last night started to track and investigate further these occurrences. I know I've seen more than these few, but these were the first two that I tracked down last night and felt I could conclusively say are affiliate marketers gaining revolving revenue by exploiting Newsvine"
Aside from these two a couple of other users who do contribute valid seeds and articles have begun to write ads and or promote internet social groups outside of Newsvine. (BILLSSOCIALMEDIA as an example) And, while groups outside of Newsvine are not what I'm attacking, it is the promotion of them that I am. Months ago I could have written up an article talking up VOX while I was beta testing it and Tumblr when I first discovered it, but I didn't. Not because people wouldn't read it, and not because it doesn't fit into the flow of Newsvine, but because it fractures the Newsvine objective and distorts the values of Newsvine. I'll use VOX to talk up VOX and use MUSICv2 to promote a new DJ set, not Newsvine. If I wanted to review a CD of another Viner in a journalistic aspect, that's fine but I wouldn't review or advertise my own things on Newsvine (it's a violation). Other Viners use other services to talk about things that Newsvine wasn't conceived for and shouldn't be used for. I can think of at least 10 top ranking Viners that have alternative outlets in which they discuss things that aren't Newsvine material. It isn't bad, but it isn't part of Newsvine's objective and they respect that. So do I.
Finally, how do we combat this kind of abuse?
The easiest thing to do is ignore them and demonstrate that these kinds of things are not going to generate revenue for them here, but it affords them time to rethink their strategy and come back in larger force and be more effective. For us, it would be a lot like treating a symptom and not the disease.
The simplest thing to do is simply report seeds enough times that they are automatically removed, but with a growing number of 'users' that exploit the system it may not be long before this becomes a daunting task, set to devalue Newsvine as an entity.
Though I think the most effective and beneficial way to stop this is to turn the table. Affiliate marketers apparently want some of the cash flow through Newsvine. Since as a community we're not keen on moderation and censorship, what about funneling them into a group or giving them a special section. Alter the rules of the UA to allow advertising links, but also make them register as an advertiser, assign them a color scheme (like rust orange or gourd yellow to contrast vine green), and require that if they wish to post ad links in the manner that they are, they register and pay a sizable fee. It just makes the deal on their end make no sense, and if they refuse to abide by the new set of rules, then Newsvine can do what they've done in the past and cancel their account.
Perhaps I need a tin foil hat and there really isn't a problem on the horizon, but from where I sit, I'd rather have that tin foil and not need it than not have it and find I do need it. And while I may not be a well known or well respected user, I am still a user who is concerned a little bit about how I think things are looking.
Just an observation…
It appears that several of the blogger pages are users who also use hubpages. a remark made to me by one such user said:
Hubpages tells us that we should do this. I'm probably not the only hubber violating this rule then.
While looking over the setup and revenue guides in hubpages, I found this:
It's great to be published on a topic you love. It's even better to get paid for it. The HubPages Royalty Program provides you with an easy way to take advantage of the Internet's top ad revenue and commission generating tools.
* You can set up affiliate accounts with Google, eBay and Amazon. This simple process is lightning quick and costs you nothing.
* Google automatically displays ads in your hub that are relevant to your topic.
* You can decide which products to list in your eBay and Amazon capsules.
HubPages earns its revenue from these ads, so we split the impressions with our writers. An impression occurs whenever an ad appears on a hub. You, the writer, receive 60% of the impressions, while HubPages receives the remaining 40%. Any revenue generated while your ad is displayed is entirely yours. So if a Hub is visited 10 times, 6 of the ad impressions are yours, and 4 are HubPages. You keep all the revenue generated from those 6 ad impressions.
Keep in mind that the key is to earning royalties and commissions is to write quality content that new readers will discover every day.
It doesn't directly state that users shoudl go to other social networking sites and spam them, but it does read in a manner that leans towards a viral mindset to draw users.
Then, I decided to search the "hubs"... serach term "newsvine", simly to see if people were collaborating and passing along that since Newsvine was a large, industrious site with a crazy amount of traffic, it would be a target site to exploit...
So, I poked around in a random article, and noticed a "share" icon at the bottom. I clicked it and Newsvine was listed. Upon clicking the NV icon you go to the regular seed link page...
Do we do this to ourselves?
Next time you visit the NV homepage, scroll to the very bottom of the page and look to the bottom left - you should notice a "Put a Seed Newsvine Link on your page, Here's How".
I think now, that the problem exists in unclear communication between sites like HubPages and Newsvine as well as users who set out to exploit the system based on this miscommunication.
Perhaps clarifying to users who seed a link directly from an outside source like HubPages and on the Newsvine page that gives the icon code to people should detail certain sections of the UA and CoH because while the information is coming from the outside, by being on Newsvine it shoudl still conform to the rules we've put forth.
The Newsvine User Agreement states:
Newsvine or third parties may provide links on the Site to other sites or content. Newsvine has no control over such sites or content, and therefore makes no claim or representation regarding, and expressly disclaims responsibility for, the quality, content, nature or reliability of sites or content linked to by the Site. Newsvine provides links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link on the Site does not imply our affiliation, endorsement, or adoption of the linked site or any information therein. When you leave the Site, our terms and policies no longer govern. You should review applicable terms and policies, including the privacy and data gathering practices, of any third-party sites.
Right there in the opening:
Then in the section labeled "prohibited conduct"
The following non-exhaustive list describes the kinds of illegal or harmful conduct that are prohibited on our Site. You agree not to:
* upload, post or otherwise transmit any User Content that:
- is not relevant to the subject matter of the article, commentary, product, service, person or entity;
- is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortuous, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, known to be false and presented as truth, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable;
- you do not have a right to transmit under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships (such as, but not limited to, inside information, proprietary and confidential information learned or disclosed as part of employment relationships or under nondisclosure Codes)
- contains software viruses or any other computer code, files or programs designed to interrupt, destroy or limit the functionality of any computer software or hardware or telecommunications equipment;
- potentially infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any person or entity; or
- is unsolicited or unauthorized advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation
That right there means it is our responsibility to trim it up where it gets rough when other users fail to abide by rules set forth by NV... fortunately... there are groups and people in them that are willing to handle that... I, am one of them.