Google the SiriusXM Killer?

Today in my inbox is an email from Google about the new Play music Service apparently called “Google Play Music All Access”. While this is a pretty horrible name for a service.. if you sign up before June 30th your monthly fee will only be $7.99. The price will be going up to $9.99/month after 6/30.

Google Play Music All Access screen capture

At first glance this isn’t a very impressive price point. Honestly to me its not a very attractive price point at all. I just turned down an offer from SiriusXM for $97.xx/year [for the next year] which works out to be about $8.16/month… But this got me to thinking. This appears to be a mashup of iTunes (recommendations), Google Drive (20,000 song storage), and Last.fm/Pandora (listen to and make your own radio stations), and the best part is No Ads!. It mobile (anywhere that you have wifi or 3G/4G/etc.) You do not have to buy another device or have another “service” enabled device. If they actually have the app buffer dynamically based on data speeds, why would anyone want Satellite radio anymore?

I‘m more than sure that my boss would argue something like “to listen to Howard Stern”, and that is a valid point. There will indeed be some content that is still only available on SiriusXM channelss. So what do you listen to your “radio” for? What content can you not live with out? What price point would make this attractive to you? With already less then half the price of a standard SirisXM account [more if you pay the extra $3.50/mo for the streaming feature] why not save the $10/month?

Adsense woes Continues [and some Adsense Alternatives]

The other day I posted about how Google Adsense suspended my account for “invalid click activity”. Today brings you some updates to that drama. Google has rejected my appeal.

Hello,

Thank you for your appeal. We appreciate the additional information you’ve provided, as well as your continued interest in the AdSense program. However, after thoroughly re-reviewing your account data and taking your feedback into consideration, our specialists have confirmed that we’re unable to reinstate your AdSense account.

Please know that, once we’ve reached a decision on your appeal, further appeals may not be considered, and you might not receive any further communication from us. Note that AdSense publishers whose accounts are disabled for violations of our Terms and Conditions are not eligible for further participation in AdSense. For this reason, you may not open new accounts.

Also, accounts disabled for invalid click activity will receive no further payment nor any reissue of previous payment. Your outstanding balance and Google’s share of the revenue will both be fully refunded back to the affected advertisers. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

We understand that you may want more information about your account activity. However, because we have a need to protect our proprietary detection systems, we’re unable to provide our publishers with any details about their account activity.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

This is of course what I expected to hear after reading around the net about this same thing happening to other people. I poured over my Google Analytics account, installed a Apache log parser [something that I have been meaning to do for years] and started pouring over my logs. I of course cannot see exactly where the clicks occurred… but after looking at Analytics I have figured out about where but only because Google Anayltics has a nice little Content -> Adsense -> Overview section.

So armed with this additional information I emailed them again. Here is a snippet of my very long email to them:


The following days have a higher click activity then I would have expected:
Apr 23, 24, 25
Apr 29, 30
May 1, 2, 3

Narrowing the report down to Apr 21st through May 5th some 92.76% of Adsense revenue generated by my account was for the page “/” (which I take to mean the base URL). There were 39 clicks during this time, and that is VERY high for what I would have expected. In comparison I only received 10 clicks from Jan 1st through Apr 21st. Which appears to me to mean that I have been averaging about 2.5 clicks per month this year. Which isn’t a good comparison since my traffic has been steadily increasing.

Jan 2013 – 1994 pageviews
Feb 2013 – 3460 pageviews
Mar 2013 – 4772 pageviews
Apr 2013 – 7477 pageviews
May 2013 – HALF MONTH 4051 pageviews

So while I have figured out which page generates the most clicks, I cannot seem to narrow it down to determine where the click traffic came from. Clicking on Adsense Referrers shows me a nice break down but only tells me that there were 6 ads clicked between Apr 21, 2013 – May 5, 2013 and their referral source was plus.url.google.com. [This makes sense to me since I routinely cross post snippets of my sites posts to my Google+ account to attempt to drum up more traffic.] This only appears to make up for about a third of the adsense ads viewed.

So where at the other 2000ish adsense ad views?
Or for that matter how do I account for the other 33 clicks?

I went on to say that I would like my account to be re-instated, and asked if they would work with me to attempt to determine where the traffic came from. I also offered them a copy of Apache2 logs. Much to my surprise I received a reply the very next day reading:

While waiting I decided to look into Adsense alternatives. There are a number [LOTS] of blog posts across the interwebs about alternatives. After about two hours of skimming and reading I selected the following two alternatives:

Infolinks

Infolinks is really simple system. You add a very small javascript into the bottom of your page and their system selects a configurable number of words to underline. These underlined keywords now serve mouseovers, and click links. If visitors click on these links you get paid a small amount. As you can see I was accepted into their program and this is now live on the site.

and

Media.net

Media.net serves contextual ads like adsense. You can easily create and customize ad units that display text ads consisting of sponsored linkes and ad topics from the Yahoo! Bing Network. My sites were not accepted into this program, I haven’t had a chance to try to figure out why. I’m guessing its because they do not generate enough traffic however.

I will of course be looking for more alternatives in the near future as time permits. But with Tournaments of Creathorne 20 (A LARP event) this up coming weekend it will not be until at least next week some time. I’ll keep you all posted on the Adsense Alternatives that I find and decide to try.

Grimm, Suits, Covert Affairs, Hannibal, and Defiance coming to Amazon Prime

Today Amazon.com announced that they have finalized a deal with NBC/Universal for adding more exclusive content to Amazon Prime.

The following are launching today:

  • Grimm – Season 1
  • Suits – Season 1
  • Covert Affairs – Season 1 & 2

Coming later this year:

  • Hannibal

Coming next year:

  • Defiance

They go on to say that Amazon Prime will be the exclusive subscription service for streaming all these hit shows for the next 4 years and that they are adding fan favorites like: Smash; Eureka; Warehouse 13, and Alphas.

While I realize that this is really just an advertisement to get people to sign up for Prime [Which I do not have, nor want], it really struck me that 4 years is a really long time for an exclusivity contract in this day and age. I feel like NBC/Universal is making a mistake. I want Ala carte programing… consumers want ala carte programming. We [the consumers] shouldn’t have to subscribe to multiple services monthly to be able to watch the programming that we want.

Wake up and smell the coffee beg mediacompanies… cable companies are dying. Being able to pick and choose what we’re going to watch when we are going to watch it is the new reality. There will not be one content provider to rule them all, so start working together,

BOOK: Inferno and Magician’s End

Today I placed yet another Amazon order. My wife tells me that she is addicted… but really I feel like I order from Amazon monthly like clock work.

Here’s what I ordered today:

Inferno by Dan Brown (Author of Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons). Summary: In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology, Robert Langdon, is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.

Anyway, for those who know me I’ve been an avid reader of Feist since first reading Magician: Apprentice in the late 80s (maybe it was the early 90s… I vaguely think that maybe Tthew introduced me to it circa 92).

Magician’s End (Book 3 of the Chaoswar Saga) by Raymond E. Feist. Summary: Thirty years ago, Raymond E. Feist wrote his first novel, Magician, a story about an orphan boy named Pug who is thrust by a war into captivity in an alien world, only to rise from slavery to become a Master Magician. Magician introduced readers to Midkemia and the Riftwars, an epic series of battles between Good and Evil that have scarred this remarkable realm for generations. Now, after twenty-nine books (authored and coauthored), Feist delivers the crowning achievement of his renowned bestselling career: Magician’s End, the final chapter of the Chaoswar Saga and the climax of his extraordinary Riftwar Cycle.

Ender’s Game Official Trailer #1 (HD) Harrison Ford

Released the other day is the Official Ender’s Game trailer. Although I posted on Google+ about it, I figured that I should also post about it here. Ender’s Game is a Science Fiction novel set in at a non-descriptive future date in Earths History.

Although I read this book many many years ago for the first time, and parts of it have always stayed with me. I don’t think that I fully grasped some of the [looking back] adult themes through out the book. But since then I have re-read it, matured, and speculated. I’ve read most of the follow up books as well and highly recommend reading it before the movie comes out! 🙂

Google Adsense Suspended

It’s not very often that I will say anything negative against Google. In fact I use a slew of their “free” offerings ranging from GMail to Adsense to Webmaster Tools to Blogger to Reader to Drive to Talk to… well you get the point. Not long ago osTicket released a new version, and as most of you know I’m a fairly avid supporter or and member of the osTicket community and have been for several years… This of course means that my site got a slew of traffic and much of it from osticket.com. (I would especially like to thank those of you who visited this free site and chose to click on a Google Adsense ad as a thank you!)

It was a huge treat to see my sites traffic slowly just keep going up last month. I imagine that its how people who launch successful sites must feel when they realize that their site just might have a following and that all their hard work has finally paid off. Since February the sites average unique visitors per month has steadily climbed until it peaked at just about 2004 in April. [I know 2004 unique visitors isn’t a lot, but it was 700 more then the month before!] It is kinda thrilling to see dollars instead of cents in your Adsense reports. How do I know these traffic metrics? Because I use Google Analytics of course!

However it is NOT thrilling to getting an email from Adsense over the weekend when your out getting your free comic books on Free Comic Book day saying that your account has been suspended due to suspicious click activity just days before your supposed to find out what your biggest month ever of traffic has gained you.

Really Google? Really? I mean come on. I’ve been using Adsense for a few years now. I’ve gotten exactly one check for exceeding the $100 threshold in all that time. I’ve had it for months and haven’t even cashed it. In fact its probably not even good anymore since I think that it says that it has to be cashed within 90 days. Why? Because I feel that my first $100 from Google would make a great wall decoration. I want to frame it and hang it on the wall. Obviously my account was dangerous and posed a risk to your AdWords advertisers…

updated May 17th, 2013: corrected unique visitor count for the month of April. I misreported the amount of unique site visitors since I read the report wrong. The number reported was 550, the actual number is 2004 550 was the high day watermark. Oops!