MyLikes: Fully Customizable, CPC Affiliate Marketing

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Looking for an alternative to restrictive AdSense for your website? New start-up MyLikes believes they have a solution, and it's aimed squarely at niche publishers and industry influencers.

In short, it works like this: Publishers sign up for an account then choose among participating advertisers to feature on their website, blog or Twitter feed. The publisher can create custom ads, or "Sponsored Likes" - using their own language and text - then publish those ads to their website or blog, or send the ad as a tweet. Every ad runs on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis and all ads are clearly marked as sponsored content. Sponsored Likes can also be included as a blog post. Advertisers have the option to accept or reject the user-generated advertising.

Here's how the Sponsored Likes CPC model works: Publishers are given a starting CPC, first based on Twitter. The more "influence" you have (determined by a number of factors including data from Topsy and Klout), the higher your starting CPC. You do not need a Twitter account, however, and a starting CPC without an audit of your Twitter influence is usually around $.05. From the start of a new campaign, CPC is constantly tweaked, based on click-through rates on your website or Twitter feeds. The click-through rate model - and not total clicks - is used to determine influence and, therefore, relevance to advertisers.

For publishers, the big advantage is increasing clicks and CPC by offering custom advertising. After all, you know your audience best and what will resonate with them the most. In addition, unlike typical affiliate programs the publisher is paid by the click, not a per-acquisition basis. So, the publisher is not relying on the effectiveness of another person's website or sales strategy. Advertisers benefit by getting highly-qualified clicks from an audience with very specific interests. The ability for publishers to customize an advertiser's message is a key component to targeting the ever-expanding long-tail, and preventing unqualified leads. Advertisers can learn more about Sponsored Likes here.

"From the publisher point of view, these ads are far more engaging than a typical AdSense ad," says Bindu Reddy, MyLikes co-founder. "They can customize the ads to talk to their audience. They get complete creative control to maximize monetization.

"From the advertiser perspective, they get a very engaged audience. It's a much more targeted lead, something that is not just randomized language. AdSense doesn't measure the effectiveness of a website."

To start, MyLikes has 12 advertisers on board, such as Moo Cards and Joylent Cloud Computing. But they will be expanding in short order and look to target several industries outside of the tech field such as lifestyle and food. They will be looking for advertisers where the long-tail is the longest - such as fashion and beauty and mommy bloggers, where there is a surplus of sites to target. And to help gain advertisers, MyLikes is offering an early bird promotion - they will pay 50 percent of the advertiser's budget for the first 50 advertisers.

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