Category: Reviews

Why I switched from OpenX to Google DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP)

Why would I do such a thing??!

Pretty straightforward really – I’m sorry to say this about OpenX because I really did like them for a number of years. Lately, they’re just shit. Yup, completely and utterly shit.

Ever since the name change to OpenX they’ve been going downhill, and I think nearly everyone in the community will agree with me – including some of their very own (former) developers.

Riddled with vulnerabilities, slow and non-required code and other problems we’ve probably all experienced with it. Not to mention no automatic optimization of your ad zones.

This past week, the final straw was picked. My OpenX installation was hacked, AFTER I had applied the latest security fix to it. Talking around to buddies, this happened to a number of people as well. I couldn’t believe it. Of course, I was venting my frustrations to one of my buddies and he told me he had recently switched from OpenX to Google DFP for the very same reasons.

I hadn’t even heard of Google DFP at the time. So, I went over to their site, logged in and got started creating my placements (websites), ad units (ad zones) and my orders (advertisers).

All I have to say is – WOW. It’s actually pretty cool. I remember the first times I was using OpenX it was quite complicated and difficult to understand how to setup the campaigns and the advertisers and ad units. Not so with DFP, just a few minutes of clicking and I figured it out.

Let’s take a look at the process for Google DFP versus OpenX shall we?

Google DFP Process:

  1. Login using your existing Google or Google Applications account.
  2. Click Inventory, Click Placements
  3. Create a placement (eg. Sitename.com-Sidebar)
  4. Click Ad Units
  5. Create Ad Unit (eg. Sitename.com-Sidebar-Left-125×125)
  6. Click Orders
  7. Click New Order and add your advertiser, save it, then upload your image or html for the ad.
  8. Click Inventory
  9. Click ‘Generate Tags’ and copy the code to your page.
  10. Wait 10-30 Minutes for Ads to Appear. You’re Done.

OpenX Process:

  1. Buy a Domain name for OpenX
  2. Buy Server Space for OpenX
  3. Create OpenX Database
  4. Install OpenX
  5. Setup and Configure OpenX  (gfl if on windows hosting by the by)
  6. Secure OpenX on your server.
  7. Ensure Maintanance Mode is setup for OpenX so your ads will eventually display.
  8. Now you can start setting up your ads.
  9. First Click Inventory, Then click Websites & Zones
  10. Add your website to OpenX
  11. Add zones to your website
  12. Now click back to Advertisers & Campaigns
  13. Add an Advertiser
  14. Add a Campaign to your new advertiser
  15. Add some banners to your advertisers campaign
  16. Set the zones in which your ads will appear  in banner configuration
  17. Go back to Websites and Zones
  18. Find your website and Zone
  19. Click on it, then go to the fourth tab ‘invocation code’
  20. Generate your invocation code
  21. Go and paste it into your site along with any other relevant code
  22. 10-60 minutes later your ads should start appearing.

As you can see OpenX requires a lot more clicks, typing and setup to get your ads and advertisers into the system. Nearly double in-fact. And it’s quite possible I’ve forgotten something here.

With Google DFP it’s actually much easier. Far fewer clicks are required and the added benefit that you can have it fall back to traditional Adsense ads if your network or in-house ads aren’t converting. As far as I understand their documentation the fallback will happen automatically if you select Adsense fallback when creating your ads.

There is one kind of major gotcha that I noticed thought. Due to Adsense terms and conditions, if you have more than 3 ad units on a page no ads will display, even if it’s just fallback to Adsense. Not too big of a deal but still something to note. I had to turn off Adsense fallback for all of my ads except one on the page and then all ads were displaying.

Bottom Line – Google DFP is quicker, easier, and probably far more secure than OpenX to use for your advertising delivery throughout your network. The only problems I’m having with it is the fact that it does sometimes crash Firefox or IE, but I haven’t had any problems with Chrome yet. I do wish they’d make a nice desktop application like they have for Adwords, but I’m sure that’s coming down the pipe.  One other thing I noticed is stats seem to take a long time to show up. As of this writing I’ve had DFP setup for two weeks and I still have no data available to create a report. I’m sure they’re still working out the last bugs in the system so this should be fixed soon.

Anyone else using DFP? What are your thoughts? Have you also migrated from OpenX? Let me know in the comments, I’m interested what others think of Google DFP vs OpenX.

Megapinger Review

A couple of weeks ago I was happy to receive a review copy of MegaPinger from the Mattseh at the WickedFire Forums. Fast forward a couple weeks, and I’ve finally had a chance to put it through the tests and see what it’s like for pinging massive amounts of links quickly, and efficiently.

What came in the file?

An executable, some text files, the license, and a pretty boring Readme file. I understand this program was made by a programmer, so documentation will by default be lackluster; however the documentation for this is pretty much nonexistent. If you don’t know what you’re doing I could see this getting a bit confusing (and, from some of the comments in the forum thread for the program, it’s apparent that it is). But, if you

First Impressions

First off, I must say the threading is incredible. It did bog down my computer a little bit when I would put it up to 100+ threads, but that’s fine if doing it overnight and nothing else is running. When running with more than 10 threads, I did experience problems in Ableton Live and Reason though, so it is something to note. Especially since I’m running on a Quad Core with 4GB of Ram.

What’s It Do?

So, what’s the program all about? Simple really, you load into it a list of your links, and optionally some spun titles, and it will run through your list and submit them to the common services out there to hopefully aid you in getting quick and relevant backlinks (depending on your titles, and submissions of course).

Does It Support Proxies?

The other great thing about this program is the option of using proxies. I used scrapebox to sort my list of proxies, and then I just loaded the same file in MegaPinger and was instantly sending my pings out through proxies instead of direct to the site from my lowly cable modem. Great stuff.

First Run

I tested it out on some small link lists, and everything worked great including the title spinning for submissions. Then I decided I should put it to the real test, and I loaded up my list of all links from the past little while (around ~4400 of them).  This told me there was about 398912 pings to be sent out, and gave me a fancy little progress bar.

Then I loaded my list of proxies into Megapinger and set it to run. These proxies are kept in a simple text file in the MegaPinger directory. Along with the failed and succeeded ping lists text file that you can refer to later.

I let this run, and kept an eye on the CPU usage and memory usage, and it was pretty constant to what this screenshot shows below.

This process took about 24 hours to run, if I kept it down at 50 threads. When I increased it I was up to about 300 pings a minute, so the time went drastically down. So far so good. Much quicker than any other pinger I’ve used and I’m sure I could have tossed it up to 500 threads and got upwards of 800 pings a minute with fast proxies, but I didn’t have time to test that much.

Problems

I did notice a slight issue, that if you pause the pinger and start it again, for some reason it would double my ‘left to be pinged’ list, and thusly re-ping all the sites it had already done. Minor annoyance since I don’t really pause MegaPinger, but something to note.

As of this writing a support ticket, and message has been sent on the forum to Mattseh without a reply (but it hasn’t been very long! ).

Overall

MegaPinger is a Great product with a great price. Aside from the small bug mentioned above I don’t see why you shouldn’t be using this to ping your links.

I’m not going to get into whether pinging is worth it or not, there are many sides to that argument, which you guys can discuss in the comments 🙂

Save Time Roughing Your Applications With Balsamiq

We’ve all been there. Struck by a moment of ambition and creativity. A new application, tool or website idea has popped into our heads and we have nowhere to write it down to remember our idea. Except for maybe the closest napkin or piece of scrap paper. This of course opens up the possibility to losing the paper, or accidentally throwing it out or whatever.

Whether we like to admit it or not, this is a common problem among many entrepreneurs – many of us have ADD, and we’re serial entrepreneurs. We have about 100 ideas at all times and want to get something out as quick as possible, and communicate it effectively.

Enter Balsamiq.

You may have heard of this application a year or so ago when it was highlighted on Digg and Slashdot. I had too, but honestly never took the time to download it and test it out myself. I probably should have though.

In case you’re not familiar with the application, at the simplest level relates back to my Just Fucking Do It post about getting things done. This application lets you rough out your ideas super quickly, and efficiently with their pre-developed set of graphical elements to toss into your sketch.

Here’s the introduction video, which can probably explain it much quicker and more eloquently than I ever could.

What’s really cool about this application, similar to mind mapping, it lets you get your ideas out and into digital format at almost the same speed of regular pen and paper. If you’re like me, you know that using a pen and paper is the quickest way to get your ideas out but almost always ends up with a messy sheet of paper, with a bunch of things crossed out or erased and updated ideas inserted. Using Balsamiq avoids this because everything is digital so you can actually delete items and just replace them. Much like a word processor, except for your application/website/whatever ideas.

I’m planning some applications with a few groups and have been testing out this software for them over the past few days. It’s working great however I do still notice that it’s “software” and not “pen and paper”, but this is probably just something that has stuck in my head for nearly 30 years and won’t take long to get over. I imagine it would be even better if I had a tablet pc, however I don’t so I can’t comment on that.The software is definitely saving me time, and allowing me to communicate my ideas much easier than before. I tend to think fast, and the “curse of knowledge” affects me and I think that others also understand the same things I do – even if they aren’t geeks – this software helps me keep things simple and explain my ideas visually which really really helps me with my work.

I also really enjoy that it looks.. like a drawing you’d create on a napkin. Here, take a look at this screen shot for an example;

Balsamiq Mockup Image
Balsamiq Mockup Image

I think this approach, keeping things simple I mean, makes this application all the better. I’ve seen other mind mapping tools like this, but they try and make everything look fancy which in my opinion makes the application harder to use, and won’t allow your brain to get past the “it’s gotta be perfect” mentality and instead into the “lets just get this shit done so we can finalize it and get it out there” mentality.

Side Note: While thinking about this post, I thought I should mention one of the mind mapping application I do like, which is slightly different than a thumbnail sketcher but along the same lines for the creative thinking aspect, is Mindjet – but that’s a whole other article in itself.

Another thing that’s pretty cool about this thumbnail sketching software, especially for me when designing landing pages or site templates is the napkee extension that’s available to take your Balsamiq creation, and export it as a html/css page. This lets me quickly map something out, even if I’m on the phone, and then quickly upload it for a client to check out – saves me lots of time, or scanning in my hand drawn notes (and often converting them in illustrator because they’re so messy). Saving time, is saving money which you can never go wrong with.

Napkee Plugin
Napkee Plugin

I know these applications cost some coin, but I like to think of it this way, when I go ahead and drop the $49 on Napkee, and 79$ on Balsamiq, this is $128. Which, in my case depending on the client is about 2 hours worth of my “time billed”. Not to mention the time it saves me for my personal affiliate/internet marketing ventures that I am creating. So, saying this saves me 30 minutes in the roughing out process of every application or idea I have, that only means 4 ideas and I essentially have my money back for the expense of this product.

No, I am not an affiliate of theirs, I’m not being paid to write this post. I just wanted to show you guys other areas you can save huge amounts of time besides the automation or scripting you’re already doing. The more you streamline your whole operation, the more time you’ll have laying on the beaches of Thailand.

Thanks Balsamiq for the review copy that made this post possible and for indirectly cleaning up my desk and wallet!