Monday, May 17, 2004
So I’m sleeping in the new place, now. Saturday and Sunday afternoons my dad helped me move my furniture (which I really don’t have much of) and I hauled over a couple loads of miscellenous crap — toiletries, clothing, audio equipment, etc. Haley has yet to move in, so last night I by myself watched the end of Gray’s Anatomy (added to my Netflix queue after hearing about Spalding Gray’s suicide) and the beginning of Woody Allen’s Manhattan before falling asleep on the sofa in the living room. Very nice.
I did manage to forget a couple of key things, I realized this morning as I woke up late for work: A shower curtain and my sneakers. So I couldn’t really shower and make it to work in time and I had to slap on my old Birkenstocks that look okay from the top but have huge rips and holes in the soles. And they might smell. Thank goodness I sit by myself in a cubicle all day…
Monday, May 3, 2004
Executive Summary: Fark.com offers a low click-through rate and very poor customer service.
While I was in Europe last March, my host, Spaceship.com, relocated. By the time I got everything working again my sites had all been down about two weeks. The first few days back online I had about 100-150 visitors per day — down from the about 400/day average I had been carrying before the site went offline. Ouch.
So. I decided that I would run a couple of experiments with advertising to boost my traffic in April to compensate for the visitors lost due to my being de-listed on Google and other search sites. I bought packages with both Metafilter and Fark.com, two sites I visit regularly and felt would be frequented by users interested in my WiFi sites. On Metafilter I bought twice the minimum package: 20,000 impressions for $20. On Fark, I bought 1% of all of their impressions for one month, calculated to be about 300,000 impressions, for $150. I (very roughly) estimated a 5% click-through rate, so at the point of purchase, I estimated that the Metafilter ad would bring in 1,000 visitors and the Fark ad would bring in 15,000. My Metafilter ad was a small text ad. My Fark ad was a much larger, brighter banner image that floated along the top of all of their pages.
Well, the reality didn’t quite meet my expectations. Metafilter dicided to spread my 20,000 impressions out over the entire year, giving me just a couple click-throughs daily — not enough to make any sort of impact on my traffic. So far, though, I have received 71 visitors from 1,889 ad impressions for a 3.76% click-though rate — not too far from my original expectation of 5%. See the chart above for more numbers.
Fark, though was only pulling in about 100 visitors per day. That’s about a 1% click-through. And when, two weeks into the account, Gogi (the guy who runs Fark’s advertising) finally set up my add-tracking account (so I could see the actual numbers rather than having to calculate them on my own), that number fell down to about 13 visitors per day coming through to my site — a click-through rate of about 0.08% (according to my add-tracking account). That drastic change made me think something had gone wrong when Gogi set up the add-tracking account. That’s 1/50th of the click-through rate of the smaller Metafilter ads, after all. He never responded to the e-mail I sent on April 19th wondering what might have caused the difference.
Let me touch on the customer-service aspect of this interaction with Gogi at Fark. My campaign started on the 31st of March. I e-mailed wondering how to access my add-tracking control monitor on the 1st of April. And again on the 8th of April. He replied on the 9th — but the account didn’t work. He replied again on the 16th — and it worked. When I noticed the drop in click-through rates, I e-mailed him (on April 19th) and never received a response. This is unacceptable. If I had spent just $20, like I did on Metafilter, I would understand that the admin may not have time to answer all of the questions they receive promptly. But $150 is a lot of money and I expected things to at least work in the first place or a turn around of at most a couple or three days for questions (especially questions like, “Why doesn’t this work yet?”). Metafilter had my account up and running smoothly right at the start and Matt Haughey (the guy who runs Metafilter) answered all of my initial questions very promptly.
So, to summarize again: Fark.com offers a low click-through rate and very poor customer service. I’ll continue visiting their site, but I don’t feel I got what I paid for from this transaction.
If I haven’t explained myself well enough, please make a comment and I’ll make any clarifications. Before doing this I couldn’t find any good information on the web about the realities of this kind of small-time web advertising. Hopefully this page will help to fill in that gap a bit.
Friday, April 30, 2004
DJ Thalidomide (aka Calvin Cissel) spins at Oscillate Night.
Igloomag has been kind enough to run a short feature review of the first Oscillate Night. Chris “Zimbo” Bradbury, a local afficianado, wrote the review originally to the Oscillate Mailing List (which I maintain and which lent its name to the event).
Anyway, the good part:
“DXM played a fantastic set, one that both surprised me and confirmed my thoughts that he and Kurt (Buddy System/Pedal) are two Austin artists that are going to jump to insane levels of production/quality in the very near future (opinion of course, and a biased one, as I think highly of them both, but every time I see either of them play, it gets better and better). DXM’s set was nicely dancy/rhythmic, crossing into the techno (as a specific genre of 4-4 electronic dance music) sound that I love.”
I will, by the way, be playing a set at the Caucus Club on May 14th. More details soon…
Tuesday, April 27, 2004
Trees and birds.
Just after midnight I finally motivated myself to go for a quick jog around the neighborhood. My job and, well, my life involve much too much sitting still in from of glowing machines and if I don’t shake myself up once every day or two I find myself unable to concentrate at work. The blood needs to rush through my brain and muscles, clear out some of the toxins, and put the right nutrients back in place. Then I’m okay.
Though I still find focussing on this well enough to write something coherent difficult. Working with computers for so many hours out of the day trains the mind to use certain patterns to get tasks done. The development I do at work involves flipping between a web browser, my development environment, various reference materials, and the specs I use to tell me what to make. My concentration doesn’t need to rest on any one stream of ideas any longer than it takes for me to quickly shove the info I need into my brain (while searching for a certain technique or reading a change request) and spit it back into the development environment. This morning I had the odd experience of totally blanking as to whether I had completed a task on Friday. My brain had been working on such a surface level that the memory of the task apparently didn’t settle into my long-term memory.
Note that I’m not saying I slack or do poor work, just that I assume a mental posture most of the day and loosening up that posture requires a fair amount of clumsy stretching and warming up the same way one would warm up leg muscles before playing a game of soccer after a long day of sitting in an office.
So when I sit down and attempt to write anything besides bland e-mails or some one-off funny comment, political whinge, or whatever, my brain doesn’t immediately want to cooperate and I get frustrated and hope I’m not losing what I consider to be a decent writing skill.
Music helps loosen the brain up. Television doesn’t. I turned down the Howard Stern show and put on “The Fawn” by the Sea and Cake and the pale colors of sound and swirling melodies inspire the small sparks of thought and memory that form the heart any true form of personal expression.
Writing that makes me want to complain about the weblog world once again. Keeping up with current web practices and just maintaining the level of one-ness with the web that is required for me to do a good job at work and with my outside clients means I do a fair amount of monitoring weblogs for new ideas and developments. And most weblogs point to the same small pile of pages and novelties that every other weblog does. Usually adding some small joke or comment or whatever and leaving it at that. To me, the whole weblog thing seems to replicate the Media Echo-Chamber effect that many webloggers would complain about the more professional news outlets perpetuating.
Anyway. Time to go to bed.
Friday, April 23, 2004
The shop, stolen from the Mojo's website.
Wade Beesley, founder of Mojo’s Daily Grind on Guadalupe, sent out an e-mail this week:
“Well, April 15th was a very big day for me. I closed on the sale of Mojo’s, put a down payment on a house, got tattooed, shaved my head, and a did few other non-mentionables.
“Yep that’s right, I’ve sold Mojo’s— 10 years, 1 month, and 12 days after I opened the beloved shop. I sold it to guy named John Wallace—very cool, used to own the 2 rock gyms here in town. he wants to keep it the same and just put in some money and new energy. What now? Well I’m walking away with a chunk of change, buying a house on the east side, taking a metal and wood class this summer, doing some traveling, and NOT WORKING for several months. This has all been a long time coming and I’m very exited. hope you are all doing well. Write me back and let me know what’s up.”
I first came to Mojo’s with Mason during the summer after my sophomore year of high school and have been a regular customer ever since. Hopefully the place will only get better, because Austin would be truly worse off without it.
Tuesday, April 13, 2004
The cover of Edward Tufte’s book Envisioning Information has a line of sports jerseys of all sorts of seemingly random color combinations, taken from a Japanese book called Color Coordination. Here’s my simple auto-generating version of it, built with Flash MX. Click anywhere on the image to get a new set of t-shirt-jersey coordinations.
Saturday, April 10, 2004
I’ve been watching way too much television lately. And I’m watching television now. (And sneezing non-stop. I’ve gone through almost all of the toilet paper in the apartment since I don’t have any kleenex handy.)
Anyway, I’m changing apartments this weekend. Moving just around the corner to a larger place in an old, brick apartment building further up in the Old Money district of town a couple of blocks away from the Pease Mansion. The neighborhood’s in the Old West Austin Historical District, which you can learn all about here. (I guess my current apartment is also in that district, but it’s not an “historical” structure).
Looking forward to it. This efficiency gets kind of dull, as I spend almost all of my waking time here sitting in my chair in front of my work tables (in front of the computer and television). Having multiple rooms and closets in which to store my stuff will be luxurious…
Thursday, April 8, 2004
Apropos nothing, a star.
I’ll be performing a live set this Saturday at Gallery Lombardi as DXM — along with locals The Buddy System, Numbers on the Mast, Dillitex, and DJ Thalidomide. I’m also flying in to perform Andreas Tilliander who normally makes his residence in Sweden. You should most definitely come check it out.
I’m putting this together through my little music-events wrapper Frescher-Southern.
I’ve been asked on a few occasions what that name means… It doesn’t mean anything. It just sounds nice rolling off the tongue.
That is all.
My European vacation photos will be posted soon.
I'm Josh Knowles, a technology developer/consultant on a variety of mobile, social media, and gaming projects. I founded and lead Frescher-Southern, Ltd. I grew up in Austin, Texas and currently live in New York City.
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