USPS suspends mail delivery in NINE states
E-commercing in the USA? Well, even the weather is against your business right now. Whaaat?
Unfortunately, the deadly arctic deep freeze that is invading Midwest drove the US Postal Service to suspend mail delivery. It will affect nine states. Say thanks to the Winter Storm Jaden!
Which states are affected? North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Virginia and Michigan.
We are sorry for your business, but the conditions there are so extreme that the USPS had to go against their motto:
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
As this might sound funny, the situation is so serious that even the Mayor of Chicago had to address “public health risk conditions”. Thus, it’s not just businesses that are hit by this storm.
PS: This guy doesn’t work for the USPS.
Good and bad sides of Facebook
If your Facebook Pages have recently been unpublished, and you have no clue why, we might have an answer.
Aaand, if you think that Facebook has stopped fraudulent data gathering, guess what? It didn’t!
Let’s start with the updates about unpublished Facebook Pages.
Facebook closes Pages and Groups before they violate policy
Last week, Facebook released some new features to combat pages violating content rules.
If you manage a Page, you may have seen a new tab that shows any content that was removed from your page as per Facebook’s Community Standards. It also shows you more info about the reduced distribution of your posts that have been rated false by a third-party fact-checker.
This Page Quality Tab is designed to help admins understand how well their content complies with Facebook Community Standards.
And it includes two sections:
- Content Removed for violating Community Standards.
- Content recently rated “False,” “Mixture” or “False Headline” by third-party fact-checkers.
The second update is about their Recidivism Policy to better prevent those who have had Pages removed for violating the Community Standards.
How does it work? This applies to people managing multiple Facebook Pages. When Facebook removes a Page or Group for violating their policies, they may also remove your other Pages and Groups. Even if that specific Page or Group has not met the threshold to be unpublished on its own.
This will restrict admins from using other Pages for sharing similar content. Facebook’s prevention strategy!
After the update rolled out, some people immediately started experiencing the effects on their Pages and sounded clueless about the situation. What about you?
The roads that Facebook took to sneakily gather data about you
While Facebook is doing everything to prevent bad content to spread, they’re also hustling hard to grow their data warehouse.
Besides the Research App which allowed the company to access some users’ data for the affordable price of 20$, they experimented new ways to gather more of the third-millennium petrol.
Let’s have a look at 4 ways they used and are still using to harvest users’ data:
- Onavo’s ‘free VPN’: In 2013, Facebook acquired Onavo, which offered a VPN service claiming to “block potentially harmful websites and protect your data.”
Later in the year, Apple reportedly found that the app gathered user data about the sites people visited, and the mobile apps they used. And as resulted, Apple booted Onavo from its App Store.
- Sponsored Stories: Back in 2011, Facebook introduced a concept called “Sponsored Stories”.This concept took advantage of users’ content like check-ins, photos, and comments to create ads for companies like Coca-cola and Starbucks.
Therefore, a bunch of people sued FB for using their data without consent. As a result of the class action, two years later, Facebook had to cough up $9M to a group of 614K people.
And obviously, the Sponsored Stories program was shut down.
When users downloaded their data, they found that Facebook had read their call logs and SMS metadata. Fact is that, despite people denouncing this activity, the program went on…
- Shadow profiles and extensive data gathering: Last year, when CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress over the issue of user data leak by Cambridge Analytica, Ben Lujan, a representative for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional district, asked him about collecting data of users who didn’t sign up for Facebook‘s service.
Lujan was referring to ‘Shadow Profiles’ that exist on Facebook even if the person hasn’t signed up for any of the company’s services.
About this topic, Gizmodo published a report on how people who’ve never registered to use Facebook or have only interacted with someone over emails not connected to the social network, can show up in the “People You May Know” section.
How is this even possible? Data magic at its finest?
What The Crew thinks about it? By hook or by crook, Facebook will have your data. Even though you are not a Facebook user, as we just discovered…
It’s funny how, despite all the troubles, they keep pursuing their interests. And as soon as some scandal comes out, they’ll just apologize to the world, say that they’re doing everything to repair whatever is broken… and then go straight back on their course.
Quora adds search-like keyword targeting, Auction Insights for advertisers
Did you jump into Quora advertising after our last post about Quora key audience insights?
If yes, there are new features for you to take advantage of. If not, maybe this update will make you think about jumping into it.
What are we talking about? Auction Insights and Keyword targeting.
Let’s first dive into the Auction Insights feature. This update aims to help advertisers understand how they’re performing against their competitors, in the ad auctions. This comes up with three features:
- Auctions Lost to Competition: Shows the percentage of auctions your ad set entered but did not gain an ad impression in any of the ad slots available.
- Impression Share: This is the percentage of auctions the ad set entered and won an ad impression.
- Absolute Impression Share: This reflects the percentage of auctions the ad set entered and won the very top ad slot available.
Why is this useful? These insights can help you understand how you position yourself against your competitors and with which frequency you’re losing impressions.
Moving to the second update, Keyword targeting. This gives you the possibility to target Quora users based on keywords. As it happens on Google, Bing etc.
Why is this useful? Before this update, it was only possible to target people based on topics. But now that you’re running search campaigns on other networks, you might consider testing your top performing search keywords on Quora too. This targeting can be more granular than topics targeting.
So, if you’re a search advertiser, the new Quora Keywords Targeting might make you wanna consider this platform as well.
Tips, tricks and case studies straight from Everad.
While it was a holiday season, Everad worked hard not only on launching new offers/geos, but also on adjustments of our in-house platform. A new disruptive feature was released and it has a really obvious name – Combos.
From now you don’t need to ask your manager every time when you’re interested in a specific combo. All this information is available in your personal account in section “Statistic” → “Combos”
What you can do is choose an offer/geo that you are interested in and get the hottest combo of lander/pre-lander. It refreshes automatically every 2 weeks and pulls data only from live campaigns. So, you can rest assured that your EPC will be at the highest level. All you need is to set an angle for the given combo and start generating traffic with ROI that exceeds any expectations!
Speaking of angles… We talked about search campaigns brand bidding not so long ago, but never mentioned a correct Google account build-up technique. In terms of COD nutra offers it is better to invest a bit into a simple e-commerce campaign first, without trying to run any tricky offers.
Everad has all the needed certificates and appropriate landing pages in order to promote health-related offers completely whitehat. But still, the better account history you have, the longer your campaigns will live and the less risk that your ad copy could disturb moderators in some way (and that could happen even to best of us from time to time).
Use ads relevant to the lander and you’ll get an optimal CTR without walking on the edge of a ban. Preferably, you have to grab bullet-points from the lander itself and assemble your ad on that basis.
Also, the fact is that risky offers could convert better, especially in tier2 and tier3 geos. So, even if your e-com campaign is doing well, it would be wise to switch your flows to nutra after reputation is built (or keep running them in parallel), as it will bring you higher ROI.
And it is possible to expand into a broader audience too, by targeting your offer not only at those who already search for the brand but for those who are interested in, let’s say, skincare in general.
You can only imagine how much people do search for that. Tip: for niche search queries it is better to use blog-styled pre-lander, so the reader discovers the offer benefits quickly, before searching for other products. And vice versa in terms of a brand campaign – if the user is seeking for an exact product, it’s better to send them to the payment page asap.
For those who want to meet and speak on more ROI boosting insights, catch us at the next event – Affiliate Summit Europe. It will be held on 12-14 March in Amsterdam. So, drop us a line and book a meeting with our managers via skype – everad24 or telegram – @Everad_Support
Amazon Q4 Earnings Report. And the secret behind its well-maintained operational costs
Amazon had a heck of a holiday. The online retail giant posted Q4 earnings today and the figures look no less than astounding. And we also have a look at the other side of its e-commerce business which quietly manages the process of its returned products behind the scenes. But let’s have a look at their figures:
Fourth Quarter 2018
- Net Sales: $72.4B. (20% increase compared with Q4 2017).
- Operating Income: $3.8B
- Net Income: $3.0B
- Diluted Share Value: $6.04. (Up from $3.75 in Q4 2017)
The fourth quarter 2017 included a provisional tax benefit for the impact of the U.S. Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 of approximately $789 million.
Full Year 2018
- Net Sales: $232.9 billion. (31% increase compared with 2017).
- Operating Income: $12.4B
- Net Income: $10.1B
- Diluted Share Value: $20.14 (Up from $6.15 in 2017)
First Quarter 2019 Guidance
- Net Expected Sales: $56B-$60B. 10%-18% growth compared with Q1 2018.
- Expected Operating Income: $2.3B-$3.3B. Compared with $1.9 billion in Q1 2018.
This guidance assumes, among other things, that no additional business acquisitions, investments or restructurings are concluded.
- Alexa was very busy during her holiday season.
- Echo Dot was the best-selling item across all products on Amazon globally.
- Millions of more devices from the Echo family sold.
- The number of research scientists working on Alexa has more than doubled in the past year.
- Alexa’s ability to understand requests and answer questions increased by 20% through advances in machine learning.
- Amazon Web Services also played a key role with a healthy revenue jump.
Well, if you were impressed by these numbers, we should let you know that their 20 percent revenue growth for the quarter is the lowest since 2015. Wall Street reaction was also dampened by Amazon’s lowered guidance for Q1 of 2019.
Amazon product returns and the hustle behind it
Moving on to how Amazon manages its gigantic e-commerce inventory and gazillion yearly product returns. You sure can imagine the number of returns an e-commerce giant like Amazon sees every year. So, what happens to these gazillion items which are purchased and returned by their customers?
These ill-fated goods could rest quietly in its warehouse but that comes at a warehousing and re-packaging cost. So, Amazon lets some other companies take them away and pay some dirt cheap price in bulk. But, who exactly?
Enter liquidation companies! The abyss of the “reverse supply chain,” where hope springs eternal.
Amazon doesn’t publicly talk about how it chooses which returned products go back up for sale and which go to the liquidators. But, a bulk of these products are evacuated from its warehouse at a huge discount.
With a couple hundred dollars and a few minutes, you could go to a liquidation website right now and buy a pallet full of stuff that people have returned to Amazon. If you add up the value of these pallet boxes, it might be around $4,000. But the auction price only comes to $200.
They call it a “reverse supply chain” and companies like Liquidation.com are their RSC partners, a very integral part of large e-commerce companies. In the last year, Liquidation.com sold $626.4M worth of this discarded-and-reconfigured stuff.
Here’s another cool part: Amazon lately spent approximately $33.7M on its liquidation inventory, which it then turns around and sells for maybe 5 percent of the supposed retail value. And, assuming the company is trying to turn a profit, it must be buying the inventory for a fraction of that. Right?
Then there are YouTubers who are raking in millions of views sorting and unboxing this still-good stuff from the broken objects, the trash, the worthless. The implication in most of the videos is that the value of what’s in the box far exceeds the cost.
And there are others who buy them off from these liquidation companies and then re-post that stuff to Amazon or sell it on eBay.
So is it a business worth considering?
Well, the inventory of these pallet boxes is so huge that you may get lost. And you never know what could be inside a pallet. You are buying your luck more than anything else. It’s typical to throw away a third to half of everything.
The people who seem to have decent success have to work hard and stay disciplined with their purchases and sales.
Cool tech, (funny) business, lifestyle and all the other things affiliates like to chat about while sipping cocktails by the pool.
Young Hustler: 19 years old and $20M fraud
Another teenage trying to make it big in the shiny e-commerce world!
Maybe he tried his luck at dropshipping, bought courses from FB gurus and got burnt. Who knows!
Who knows why he had to resort to setting up a fake online business selling Amazon electronics. Especially when the you are selling products which never arrive.
And then go way ahead to list that business with Dept of Revenue making it seem as if it’s a healthy business that needed to pay state taxes.
Why would you then pay taxes to DoR directly through customer payments and file for a refund of overpayments?
We are not sure. But this teen saw some shimmering light in this business, made some handsome money. And is now looking handsome in the custody of police.
Another Billy McFarland, but suppressed too young…