Scummy advertising in the age of Bitcoin

Not a day goes by that bitcoin isn’t in the news, and so it should well be.

It’s brought about a seismic shift in technology and the way we’ll process data, transactions and value. We haven’t yet fathomed the impact blockchain will have on our lives, we’re standing at the very beginnings of the next industrial revolution.

Unfortunately, it’s also brought out all the scammers….in their droves.

As a media expert (yes I classify myself as an expert, I’ve got my 10,000 hours to prove it) I can spot a fake in 3 seconds, but most consumers are more trusting and as the fake news epidemic keeps spreading scammers are getting bolder and using legitimate news outlets and blatant misrepresentation to defraud customers.

It doesn’t just erode trust in Cryptocurrency, but in the advertising industry as a whole.

What’s worse is that mainstream RTB networks are either incapable or unwilling to stop it.

This ad profiling Elon Musk appears, certainly without his consent, on Yahoo Finance.

Scummy ad 1 featuring Elon Musk.

It links to a site that purports to be CNN Tech and uses Musk’s reputation to sell an obvious bitcoin scam.

Elon musk being shown in all his Tesla glory  and connected to a fake bitcoin scam

Just in case you think it was a one-time thing, nope.

This ad was served repeatedly though ad servers including the one below on respected financial sites.

Scummy ad 2 purporting to use Elon musk again

In a global market already reeling from fake news and consumer confidence at an all time low, how long are we going to stand for this kind of fraudulent advertising?

When will ad networks take responsibility for their inventory and act to eliminate fraud?

Don’t tell me it can’t be done.

If can hand curate advertisers why can’t RTB networks do the same?


The last word always belongs to the mountain

Very few of us will ever accomplish momentous things.

That’s just the reality.

Not from lack of dreaming, but from lack of action.

Fo those of us who do try, often there are things outside of our control that influence the outcome.

You can’t plan for every eventuality and even when you get it right you things can still go horribly, horribly wrong.

There’s a great line in the movie Everest “…the last word belongs to the mountain…”

In the context of life and business, the challenges we face may not always be within our control, but with the right attitude and if you prepare yourself by being adaptable you can avoid pitfalls, react and hopefully make it to the summit, whatever your personal summit may be.

Coreg makes a comeback.

Check your Facebook timeline and you’ll see friends and co-workers sharing competitions, quizzes and giveaways.  It’s almost as if Quizzes are the new self-help section!

People love quizzes and giveaways, so it’s no wonder that when personality quizzes, dream holiday competitions or product giveaways come along Facebook users flock to participate and share.

Clearly co-registration marketing is making a comeback.  I’ve been testing using my own quizzes and have found that if properly executed, co-registration competitions and quizzes are a powerful marketing tool.

For the uninitiated, Coreg (or co-registration marketing) is where consumers complete a sequence of questions and based on their interests are either subscribed to newsletters or opt-in to receive information from advertisers.

Coreg fell out of favor in recent years, mostly due to a proliferation of coreg networks that proffered low quality consumer data.   When I started list building for an offer I was running I tested several co-registration lead suppliers but found that when I ‘bought’ in subscribers they were often uninterested, didn’t engage with my content or were just downright fraudulent.

I could see the value in owning consumer data, so rather than abandoning coreg entirely, I built my own co-registration platform which enabled me to control the end-to-end process.  Once I’d refined my sequence of questions and figured out what actions I wanted my users to take, I started marketing my competitions & quizzes.

In my experience, it’s one of the cheapest ways to generate opt-in data, especially on Facebook.  With an opt-in rate of 1 in 6 my average cost is around $0.47 a record.
By adding co-registration lead generation to my own quizzes over the last 6 months we are turning a profit while building email lists.

Key takeaways on why I’m in love with coreg.

  1. You obtain Marketing Consent.

Consumers that engage with quizzes give you permission to market to them.

If you’re running a quiz or a co-registration offer, you’ll not only acquire personal information, but also get opt-in consent to market to your recipient.

  1. You gather invaluable Demographic Data

Metrics focused affiliate marketers understand that demographic and psychographic profiling plays a key role in the success of their businesses. Armed with this information you’d spend less time picking relevant offers to promote, see an increase in your activity rates as well as your earnings.

  1. Engagement drives revenue

Engagement is critical to the sustainability of your business and can only be improved by understanding your consumers.

Once you understand and use their demographics, behaviour patterns and buying triggers you can segment your lists more effectively, build consumer profiles and present more relevant content.

Your revenue will increase and list retention will improve, as your readers will be more engaged, interested and active.  They’ll be far less inclined to unsubscribe.

If you’re into building mailing lists, you should consider coregistration marketing.  Done right, it can have a massive impact on your business.


This article was originally published by me in Feedfront Magazine.

Planning vs. Reality

Have you ever had one of those days when nothing seems to go right and you doubt your own ability to plan, forecast and execute?  We all have.  It’s good to remember that a plan is designed to guide, not act as gospel.  It’s very rare that everything will go according to plan.

In business, as in life, expect the unexpected to happen.  Keep looking at the flag and keep moving forward.  It may get muddy and the water may be deep at times, but every time you wade through deep business rivers, keep in mind there’s an embankment on the other side.  Oh, and remember to swim! 🙂

The fundamentals of doubling down

Sitting at the table, you’re on a losing streak.  What do you do?  Pick up your chips and walk away or double down and hope for the best?

There’s that moment in every movie where the hero is faced with the gambler’s dilemma.  Walk away a poor man or double down and go for broke.  

As the audience, we know how it’s going to end, we roll our eyes at his decision and dig down into our seats to watch the impending train wreck.  

It’s not so much different from real life.
Entrepreneurs are often seen as gamblers, mavericks who risk it all on the spin of a wheel or the throw of the dice.  In reality though the business-savvy entrepreneur doesn’t just risk it all on a wild spur of the moment decision.

We weigh our options, review all the angles, think about the consequences, imagine all the outcomes and eventually settle on a course of action.  Then we roll the dice.  

To the outsider it seems like a crazy decision, but it’s not.  It’s a calculated risk, not just a Hail Mary play.

Ok, sometimes it is a Hail Mary play, but hopefully at least a well considered one.

When I am faced with gambler’s dilemma, I use 4 key questions to help me make my decision:

What’s the opportunity cost? Cutting bait may be easy if you’re not that invested, but if I keep spending or even accelerate spend, what could I reasonably expect to gain? If the opportunity cost outweighs my risk, I consider doubling down.

How badly do I lose if I walk away?  If you’ve invested a bit of time or money it’s easy to quit.  Use a stop-loss mentality and pull the plug before you get in too deep.  If however you’ve invested significant resources into a project, take the time to thoroughly review the consequences.

How does this decision affect others?  Sometimes hard decisions influence others like employees, customers, investors or vendors. The people most affected may have options you haven’t explored, so consult widely.

What are the conditions I need to double down. Just like in poker, decisioning becomes easier when you have more cards on the table.  When you can reduce your probability of failure, it becomes easier to make a winning decision.  Spend time identifying key elements that indicate success or failure and use these to evaluate progress.

Stay on course by identifying bail points, criteria for defining success & failure and use these to make your decision based on sound fundamentals, not fear.

The real skill of course, is in listening to your inner voice and actually following your own advice.

As the song says, you need to know when to hold’em, know when to fold them and when to run 🙂

Pokemon Go – an overnight success 20 years in the making

We’re waiting with baited breath in darkest Africa for the release of what’s become a global phenomenon in gaming.  Not only has Pokemon Go overtaken twitter & Facebook, it’s forced sluggish gamers to get out there and inadvertently exercise!

As a nifty by-product its also added $7 Billion to Nintendo’s market capitalization in just 7 days.


Here’s the lowdown.  It’s a game that takes place in a virtual world.  Overlaid on the real world.  You hold up your phone and you see pokemon, special places and tools overlaid on your real surroundings.  Yep, every dystopian nightmare ever, come to life – but more fun 😉

If you want to find out how it works, go google it.  Here’s a nifty piece on the brilliance behind the game, with thanks to Roger Hamilton


How long does it take to create an overnight success? For John Hanke it’s taken him 20 years to create Pokémon Go.

This week, the Pokémon Go app has broken all records, with 10 million+ downloads in the first week, exceeding Twitter in daily active users, and with higher average user time than Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram & WhatsApp.

How did John Hanke create such a massive overnight craze? Here’s the 10 times he levelled up in his lifetime to reach Pokémon Go:

1st Level up: In 1996, while still a student, John co-created the very first MMO (massively multiplayer online game) called ‘Meridian 59’. He sold the game to 3DO to move on to a bigger passion: mapping the world.

2nd Level up: In 2000, John launched ‘Keyhole’ to come up with a way to link maps with aerial photography, and create the first online, GPS-linked 3D aerial map of the world.

3rd Level up: In 2004, Google bought Keyhole and with John’s help, turned Keyhole into what is now ‘Google Earth’. That’s when John decided to focus at creating GPS-based games.

4th Level up: John ran the Google Geo team from 2004 to 2010, creating Google Maps and Google Street View. During this time, he collected the team that would later create Pokémon Go.

5th Level up: In 2010, John launched Niantic Labs as a start-up funded by Google to create a game layer on maps. John explains why he called it Niantic:

“The Niantic is the name of a whaling ship that came up during the gold rush and through a variety of circumstances got dragged on shore. This happened with other ships, too. Over the years, San Francisco was basically just built over these ships. You could stand on top of them now, and you wouldn’t know it. So it’s this idea that there’s stuff about the world that’s really cool but even though it’s on the Internet, it’s hard to know when you’re actually there.”

6th Level up: In 2012, John then created Niantic’s first geo-based MMO, “ingress”:

John explains: “In the case of Ingress the activity is layered on top of the real world and on your phone. The inspiration was that it was something that I always used to daydream about while I was commuting back and forth from home to Google.”

“I always thought you could make an awesome game using all the Geo data that we have. I watched phones become more and more powerful and I thought the time would come that you could do a really awesome real-world adventure-based game.”

7th Level up: In 2014, Google and the Pokémon Company teamed up for an April Fools’ Day joke, which allowed viewers to find Pokémon creatures on Google maps. It was a viral hit, and got John thinking the idea could be turned into a real game.

8th Level up: John decided to build Pokémon Go on the user-generated meeting points created by players of Ingress, and the most popular became the Pokéstops and gyms in Pokémon Go:

As John says, ”The Pokéstops are submitted by users, so obviously they’re based on places people go. We had essentially two and a half years of people going to all the places where they thought they should be able to play Ingress, so it’s some pretty remote places. There are portals in Antartica and the North Pole, and most points in between.”

9th Level up: John raised $25 million from Google, Nintendo, the Pokémon Company and other investors from Dec 2015 to Feb 2016 to grow a team of 40+ to launch Pokémon Go this year.

10th Level: John and his team launched Pokémon Go on July 6th in USA, Australia and New Zealand. Since its launch, Nintendo’s share price has risen $12 billion, and the app is already generating over $2 million daily in in-app purchases, making it an overnight phenomenon.

The overnight success of Pokémon Go has taken John Hanke 20 years to create. Throughout these 20 years, while he had a big vision of a game layer over the world, he didn’t know what form it would take. At every step, he just focused at his next level up.

At each new level, he had new powers, new team members, and new items in his inventory…

Are you, like John, treating your own entrepreneurial journey like one big MMO?

Keep the end in mind, but focus today on simply levelling up.

At every level, grow your powers, your team, and your luck.

And know it takes many levels to win the game.

“It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.” ~ Eddie Cantor


10 Daily Habits of the most successful entrepreneurs…or anyone actually.

Aargh!  It took me years to figure out how to be the perfect entrepreneur.  Now, at the ripe old age of 44, I found this infographic that sums up all my proprietary secrets.   I don’t know whether to sue, cry or just pretend I made it myself.  Anyway….if you feel inadequate and need an infographic to tell you how to live, here you go.

You’re welcome.  ?

I’m a failure

I’m a failure. It’s incontrovertible, I’ve given up. I’ll never win the lottery.

Entrepreneurs are a rare breed. We think differently, we create, we hustle and we plot. Who among us hasn’t stood looking at the lotto and wished ever so desperately that it were that easy. Boom, you’re rich. Would you like it as a lump sum or an annuity sir? Why thank you, I’ll take the lump sum, I know what to do with it.

Sadly, I’m a failure. I even gave up on the idea of buying tickets. Yet, every few weeks some Shmuck with dumb luck or a random selection of numbers gets given a new life. “Why, why not just buy a ticket” I berate myself. “C’mon, if you don’t try you won’t win. Are you saying you’re not as lucky or as deserving? C’mon Jonathan, buy a fucking ticket!”

Staring at myself occasionally shaving, I admit I give this far more consideration than it deserves. Hey, it’s my thought process…Tourette’s and ADD are a powerful combination, so don’t judge me.

Anyway, I know why I refuse to buy a ticket. Aside from the obvious fact that you have better odds  filling a bath with rice then reaching in and pulling one red painted grain out, aside from that, it’s because I value my money.
Not just that, I value what it means to earn my money, I don’t see myself as a victim looking to escape.

There’s always more money to be made, we don’t need a lottery, we need a life. Desperately lining up week after week pinning your hopes on some random draw is far more soul crushing to me than the creative, often chaotic roller coaster life of an entrepreneur.

I back myself every time, and so should you.