Last week, “Katie Fox” posted a fawning message here at Irregular Times, a message that began, “we respect your influence in the POD community.” This was my first hint that we’d been subjected to cut-and-paste spam. Indeed, you can find Ms. Fox’s canned message spread all over the internet on websites related to CafePress, a print-on-demand (POD) service for designers to sell (and consumers to buy) images on shirts, buttons and bumper stickers.
Misgivings About Sellit
I admit to to being miffed at Sellit’s spammery, but that is an infraction of netiquette I’m willing to overlook; perhaps Sellit actually increases sales for CafePress designers in a spiffy manner. But apart from my emotional reaction I have a number of reasons to doubt that Sellit’s ads are worthwhile.
While Sellit’s Katie Fox encourages us to read a press release making wildly fabulous claims about Sellit’s potential, I recommend a person actually read the Sellit Terms of Service instead. The restrictions within veer from the bizarrely hypothetical (no, you may not sell “Human Parts or Remains”!) to the practically straightjacketing (no “offensive,” “political” or civil disobedience messages may appear in an advertisement). The Terms of Service document also explicitly refuses to guarantee that the service will work as promised. If you aren’t satisfied with Sellit, you don’t get your money back.
Moving on from the terms of service to the actual advertisement, the design of the Sellit advertisement (see image above) poorly matches the parameters of a CafePress product. This is odd considering that CafePress is at present Sellit’s only partner. The titles of our CafePress shop and of our Cafepress products are truncated severely in the advertisement. Neither of those titles expands upon rollover as you might expect, and neither title is a hyperlink to the product. The product image itself takes up relatively little space in the advertisement and a hyperlink to Sellit also appears in each advertisement, draining attention away from the ad you’ve paid for.
Practically speaking, because the advertisement appears as a flash widget, the links within it aren’t going to be followed as well by Google as good old html links. If you’re interested in placing advertisements as a way of getting some search engine mojo, this isn’t the best route.
Finally, I’m made suspicious by the vagueness of Sellit’s statistics in its sales materials. Take this snippet from Sellit’s press release:
Over 36% of potential buyers across Myspace, Facebook and blogs who interact with Sellit technology convert or generate a lead and “click through” for these shop keepers. By properly using the Sellit social media marketing approach there’s a 6.36% chance consumers will interact with shop owner’s products comparable to a 1.99% chance when using a similar rich media product offered by Google’s DoubleClick.
Read that carefully. The advertisement is a flash widget in which people can click buttons to flip through a variety of images. Flipping through the images in the widget is what’s meant by “interact with Sellit technology” and “interact with shop owner’s products.” 6.36% of people seeing the advertisement will mess with the advertisement, but that’s not the goal. The goal is for someone to actually click through and visit a CafePress shop. 36% of the 6.36% who mess with the Sellit widget are described as clicking through. The promised result: a 2.3% click-through rate.
On the Sellit blog, the company touts the “reBARKable” performance of a CafePress shop called Mr. Puggle:
Over the course of 10 days, the Sellit AdPAK Program allowed for 220 customer interaction experiences with potential Mr. Puggle customers outside of the MrPuggle.com domain. Out of those 220 interactions, a full 64.09% of them converted to direct traffic driven to MrPuggle.com, allowing these potential customers to fully interact with the shop and all of it’s products.
If an ADPAK purchase of $14.99 delivers 15,000 ad impressions in a month, it should be delivering about 500 per day in a month of 30 days, or 5,000 ad impressions for the course of 10 days. 141 clicks through to the Mr. Puggle webshop (64.09% * 220 “interaction experiences”) resulted from these 5,000 ad impressions in this banner result. The “reBARKable” click-through rate in the case of Mr. Puggle? 2.8%. Of those 141 clicks through to the shop, how many people actually bought Mr. Puggle shirts or other gear? How much profit did Mr. Puggle receive as a result during the 10 day period? We aren’t told.
An Advertising Experiment
You know, I could be wrong. My misgivings could be misplaced here. Perhaps the $14.99 monthly fee for 15,000 ad impressions is a really good deal, and results in a good chunk of additional profit. I’ve decided to find out.
Sellit recommends using Google Analytics “to keep an eye on any traffic increase(s) you will be getting,” so I’ll be doing just that. I’ve signed up for a Sellit ADPAK for our section of Healthcare Reform buttons and stickers on CafePress, paying the $14.99 fee for one month’s ads. The issue of health care reform is hot right now, and these buttons and stickers are our best sellers right now. I’ve chosen a hot issue with popular messages to give the Sellit ADPAK its best chance of success. Through Google Analytics, I’ve confirmed that we’re able to track how many visitors we get from the Sellit ADPAK, how many pages at our CafePress shop those visitors view, and how many purchases those visitors make. Through the month, I’ll share this information with you.
There have been two full days in which our Sellit ADPAK has been operational. In those two days, we’ve had 5 visitors click through to that healthcare reform shop. Assuming 1,000 ad impressions during that time (to make the pace of 15,000 ad impressions over 30 days), our click-through rate so far has been 0.5% of ad impressions. Those 5 visitors have viewed 18 pages in our shop and made 1 purchase. That 1 purchase has netted us $1.16 in profit, meaning that with 28 days to go, we have lost $13.83 in the venture. To put it in bullet points:
0.5% click-through rate.
I’ll share more with you as the month progresses, and we’ll see by the numbers whether the Sellit ADPAK is up to snuff.