Advertising This Blog

I've been getting quite a few questions about this lately so I figured I ought to explain the text ads that some of you are seeing around the web for this blog. Here's a screenshot I was sent yesterday by a friend:
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I've heard a number of rationalizations for these ads, which have been running for almost a year now, including banner advertising arbitrage, a desperate attempt to shore up declining readership, and taking advantage of declining keyword pricing.

The truth is simpler. I want to use the services of every Union Square Ventures portfolio because I believe that by being an active user of our portfolio's products and services, we can be better investors.

One of our investments is a provider of a keyword advertising service for small and medium businesses called Clickable. Clickable makes it drop dead simple to buy keyword ads across all three major keyword marketplaces (google, yahoo, microsoft). You get daily reports that are simple and easy to understand. And you get recommendations on how to improve your campaigns like "drop these keywords", "change your copy", "increase your prices on these keywords", etc, etc.

So I've been running a campaign to drive traffic to this blog since Clickable went into beta. On a typical day I'll get about 100,000 impressions, about 10-20 clicks, and I'll spend less than $5. Yes, spending $150/month driving traffic to this blog that gives all of its ad revenue to charity seems like a silly idea.

But I've learned a lot about keyword advertising during this process. For example, I've noticed that my keywords are generating a lot more impressions (and more clicks) for me in the past four months. I think that points to some important changes in the keyword marketpace.

But most importantly I've learned a lot about Clickable and how its service works. And I've been able to give the company feedback on how to make the service even easier and more helpful to a small advertiser like me. At $150/month, you can't get much smaller.

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Comments (Archived):

  1. fredwilson

    Ok. I’ll do that in a new post. Maybe tomorrow or this weekend

  2. fredwilson

    Their definition of small is not 150/monthThere are tons of advertisers who spend between $1000 and $50,000 per month on keywords but are too small for an agencyThat’s the market that clickable is serving.

  3. Chris

    If you are spending $150/month on keywords, it would seem the biggest suggestion you could make to would be to have a pricing bracket below $129/month; otherwise I don’t see small advertisers using the system.

    1. Mike

      If you can only spend a $100 a month on search advertising, you are better off using the DIY approach of Google Adwords. But if you are business, you know advertising is what helps you sell your products and services and spending $1000 a month in search for a cost effective / accountable solution for a local business is the way to go rather than traditional media (radio, tv, print, etc)

  4. centernetworks

    Could you post some screenshots of the client interface, etc.? I think it would help those of us considering giving the service a try for our own businesses. Thanks

    1. maxkalehoff

      Thanks for your interest in Clickable. We have a 3-minute tour which shows full screen shots and functionality, and everything else that comes with the Clickable experience, including full support, community and university. Go to, and click on the big blue “Take The Tour” button in the sidebar. Also, check out our Products section, where we go through all the major tabs and explain core benefits for both advertisers and agencies.…. We also have live demos every Tuesday and Thursday — just sign up here:…. You can also email me directly at mkalehoff at clickable dot com.Lastly, we have one of our most significant product releases coming in the next week. Stay tuned!

      1. brooksjordan

        I just watched the “Tour” videos, and they’re quite well done – frictionless – and compelling.

  5. Ed

    “I think that points to some important changes in the keyword marketpace.” Fred, could you clarify this? If you’ve been using Clickable for 4 months, and see changes over 4 months, how are you able to qualify changes in the keyword marketplace itself?Have you been using it longer than that? Or, perhaps you’re recognizing dynamicswithin your intermediate analysis, are able to scrutinize off “constants”?

    1. fredwilson

      i’ve been using it for over a year and in the past four months, without a significant change in my campaign, i am all of a sudden getting more impressions and clicks. i think that means the market has moved and i’m in a higher position than i was

      1. Mike

        Your quality score has probably improved dramatically which is leading the cause of the improvement in impressions, page positioning, and a lower cpc for your ads.

        1. fredwilson

          I’ll take a look at that. Why do you think my quality score has increased? I’ve been doing mostly the same thing on this blog for the past five years

      2. Ed

        Thanks Fred. Now I can appreciate your framing.

  6. Mike Zajko

    Fred,Longtime reader, first time commenter.I have certainly read your commentary about clickable and have been to their website to check it out. I just started running a Google ad campaign and a facebook ad campaign for my older relatives business. I am doing this pro-bono for a similar reason to you; in order to get a better understanding of how this type of advertising works and obviously to help their business.I have been getting a .15% CTR via Google and facebook, however my facebook CPC is half of Google, so it may be time to reallocate funds to facebook. While our tracking for click to call has been somewhat rudimentary, we have noticed 4X greater call volume from pre-campaign to now.I am curious about clickable though…What data and reports do they supply outside of what Google reports does?Does it offer automatic recommendations on keywords, bids, etc…?Just trying to understand the key benefits of their tool/service.Thanks and really enjoy the Blog

    1. fredwilson

      hopefully the clickable team will jump in and comment here but it offers an entirely different UI and experience than adwords. the UI is “iphone for adwords” and they have a recommendation engine that watches your campaign (and all campaigns) and gives you suggestions to improve ROI and your stated goals

    2. maxkalehoff

      Mike,Thanks for you interest in Clickable. To start, Clickable aims to provide a simple experience to manage all of the major search and pay-per-click advertising networks — and today, that includes Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. For most customers, Clickable is instant in that it takes minutes to link an advertising account and get started, even most sizable ones with thousands of keywords, and start receiving recommendations that encourage best practices and eliminate most tedious spreadsheet analysis. But best practices includes goal-based advertising, and a greater focus on return-on-ad-spend. That means making advertising decisions based on profitability and achievement of pre-determined goals — NOT necessarily cost-per-click or click-through-rate (which are metrics of efficiency, not effectiveness or success).I would encourage you to go to and take the tour (in the sidebar), sign up for a live demo (Tuesday and Thursdays), and then try Clickable out for yourself. There’s no risk, you leave at any time, and you can go back into your Adwords or other network interfaces at any time. We have full support, transparent user guide, community. We even have a light managed services group to help you get set up for success — if you so need.Finally, you can always reach me directly at mkalehoff at clickable dot com.

  7. howardlindzon

    I think we will give it a try for stocktwits and wallhogs fred….who should we talk to please. thanks

    1. maxkalehoff

      Howard, you can contact me directly at mkalehoff at clickable dot com.

  8. D. Lambert

    Good move. I know that the last time I worked in a venture-backed company, if our investors had been that familiar with our software, we might have avoided some interesting strategic decisions. At a minimum, our board meetings would have been a ton more productive.

  9. rikin

    “including banner advertising arbitrage, a desperate attempt to shore up declining readership, and taking advantage of declining keyword pricing.”I don’t really see anything wrong with any of the above but everyone’s got an opinion I guess. This is great content, why not advertise and attract new audiences. No one’s demanding people click on the ads!

    1. KB

      I don’t think those were meant negatively. There are a lot of publishers out there who would like to know if a keyword arb play would really work. Is anyone out there making money on keyword arb?

      1. fredwilson

        Yes, and the both buy a lot of keywordsThat would not be the case if they weren¹t making money at it

  10. jonathanmendez

    I’ll bet the impression/click lift is due to all the coverage and interest in finance these past 4 months.One day more advertisers will see the value in understanding how to budget for and leverage ad platforms that exploit the dynamic and ever changing world (content) we live in instead of being stuck with their thumb up their arse because they plan and buy media “campaigns.”

  11. Patrick

    But I’ve learned a lot about keyword advertising during this process. …But most importantly I’ve learned a lot about Clickable and how its service works. …If these two lessons help you and your firm towards a successful exit from Clickable (or any other advertising investment), the $150/month will pale in comparison. Great stuff. This isn’t quite an ad arbitrage as it is a general (time, money, knowledge) investment arbitrage.

    1. fredwilson


  12. WasatchGirl

    Ah, I actually have noticed these ads and wondered about them. Makes perfect sense as USV is very active in using their portfolio services. (I say this as I am writing my thoughts with Disqus.) =)I am off to watch the Clickable Take the Tour video now… =)Hope you are well, Fred.Rachel

    1. fredwilson

      Do you like disqus?

      1. WasatchGirl

        Couple thoughts..As a reader: I love when I go to a blog and Disqus is installed because it means that I can continue to be part of the conversation.As a blogger: I have implemented it on both my blogs. My climbing blog is definitely more active right now as I am on a many month long climbing road trip. I notice that very few readers on this blog will register, seeming to end the conversation with their comment. Bummer. I am just pulling my business blog out of dormancy so will see it’s use there soon.I must admit that part of the installation process, that of importing previous comments, didn’t seem intuitive. I finally solved my installation hiccups by chatting with Daniel Ha through Twitter, but before I found him on Twitter I was struggling to find a write-up to walk me through the process. Not sure if they have addressed this issue yet (as I haven’t needed to go back to their blog or worry about installation), but perhaps some tutorials on this would be helpful as I noticed a good handful of other people worried they had lost past comments.Overall, I love the service.

        1. fredwilson

          Great feedbackthanks

        2. obscurelyfamous

          Appreciate the helpful words. We’re launching a new documentation Wiki this week that will take all of what we’ve learned from our users and put it out in easy to understand pages. Hopefully this eases any confusion for future Wasatch women. 🙂

          1. WasatchGirl

            Ah, good idea. That should help to clarify all questions from us Wasatch-based folks. =)Also, great response on the spam problems lately. I noticed Gianii quickly created a blog post plus personally addressed my thoughts on Twitter.

  13. Jonathan Wegener

    Wow, this blog post has turned into a giant advertisement for Clickable :)I think the overarching point is an interesting one — it’s difficult for many VCs to fully understand and grasp their portfolio company’s products. I imagine this is especially true of B2B portfolio companies that serve a very specific customer vertical (any classic examples come to mind, Fred?).Anyway, it’s great that you make such an effort to become intimate with the products.

    1. fredwilson

      And it also points out how social/conversational media can be monetized