The Risks of Cloud Computing

by Jonathan Goodman on May 11, 2013

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This week we are going to talk about the risks of putting everything into Google Cloud along with other news including LinkedIn’s recent acquisition of Pulse and we’ll have an update on the fallout of the closing of the Google Affiliate Network and SEOmoz’s recent announcement they were taking a break from their affiliate program.

Hello, and welcome to the World of Internet Marketing. I’m your host Jonathan Goodman and along for the ride is my wonderful dog Max, who’s once again snoring behind me. Today, we are going to talk about several different things, including the risk of cloud computing, LinkedIn’s new acquisition with the Pulse acquisition, Google Affiliate Network, we’ll have an update with that, and we will talk about SEOmoz’s new decision to leave their affiliate program and we’ll end with an interesting conspiracy about affiliate marketing again.

So, let’s first talk about the risks of cloud computing. This is an interesting story coming out of Huffington Post Live today about a woman who was locked out of her Google Cloud account for a week because she stored her client’s password in a document on the Google Cloud Drive. Which it seems to be against the terms of service which is interesting. First, I didn’t even know that, that was something that you could have your Google Cloud shut down for. It seems like, I think if you’re working with consultants then there is more of a likelihood, if you have multiple consultants and you are especially managing their social media or you need to access various information because you are helping them, that this would then be something that they would see, that would be a problem. Now, my understanding, the reasons why that is in the terms of service is because I guess, hackers, will kind of create large excel spreadsheets and include data with passwords and usernames. So, it’s their way of going through and preventing all of that.

I understand that when you are looking at a terms of service what you are generally looking at is copyright issues, explicit material issues, passwords just seem to be something that they should maybe bold and maybe just have an immediate outline as you are signing up for Google Cloud that kind of says, okay, in addition to the explicit content and the copyright material here’s the other immediate five things that get people banned, just to kind of help out, right?

So, this is just another example, and I don’t want this podcast to turn into Google bashing right? I think Google does a great job, I think Amazon does a great job, both of those always seem to be in my crosshairs because of just some of the methodology and some of the business techniques that they implement. We have to realize that these are the 500-pound gorillas in the room that are able to control. We need that, we want to put up our information just to make it easier and more accessible to us everywhere, so we put it up in the Google Cloud. There are significant drawbacks to giving somebody else your data.

So, obviously when I heard about this I immediately did two things. First, any document that had a title in it that included the word password and then I went further to find any excel spreadsheets that might be listing any of my passwords. I immediately went in there and I changed that word. Hopefully, that will alleviate the problem but the second most important thing that I do is I use Backupify, which is a software that backs up all of your data in the cloud. Now Backupify is great but I don’t want this to be a commercial for them, I just want to read you their tagline so you can kind of see what they do. Their tagline is:

“If your business depends on the cloud, your data should have a parachute. Backupify keeps your cloud data safe from malicious deletions, unpredictable hackers and user errors.”

That really says it all to me, that’s what I use to make sure that my data is backed up every single day and if Google decides to turn my account off or if a hacker gets in there somehow and is able to manipulate the data, I’ve got a backup of that.

So, let’s stop for a second we are going to take a commercial break and we will be right back after this.

Okay we are back and now we are going to talk about LinkedIn’s new acquisition of Pulse. LinkedIn recently posted Pulse, which is a mobile reading application. It has 30 million users and last week they relaunched their iPhone app to focus on personalized news in an effort to engage with LinkedIn’s audience. But you know, one of the things I’ve talked about in my book is Google’s attempts, they seem to, their focus is to try to thwart Facebook’s growth, which is the wrong focus. What they should be doing is focusing in on the customer and the clientele that they currently have, which is the business man or woman. The person who is focused on connecting with their business network, not with their high school friends and college friends and going back and mom and brother and all these people. They would do much better and obviously they’ve had programs like the influencers, which had Richard Branson and president Obama. It’s interesting and it’s at the right level but LinkedIn, here’s the question, is LinkedIn a news service. Does it provide, is it trying to provide a resource for information within the business community or is it trying to build out connections between individuals who work within certain industries? I think that they would be much better off to focus their attention there.

Now you can look at the data and their page views grew 67% in the 4th quarter based on this news feed. These news feeds. You know, I don’t check LinkedIn very often, the only time that I really check LinkedIn is when somebody has recommended me in that profile piece. You can be recommended for different key words and every week one or two people hit that button, which is a very annoying thing at the top of the LinkedIn profile. When you go into LinkedIn it has four people and it says is this person an expert in this, this, or this and you feel like you have to kind of. Most of the time I don’t know the people, so I close out that bar. But every once in a while like twice a week or something I would get an email that says oh this person recommends you for Internet marketing or this person recommends for SEO. That leads me back into LinkedIn and I look and I see who it is and I look at the numbers and if they are growing and just review my profile. I don’t use LinkedIn as a news source. I have so many news sources out there. There’s so much data and information available that I don’t really see that LinkedIn is going to be the composite for all that.

More to what I’m talking about is, should the competitor in LinkedIn’s mind be Facebook? They really shouldn’t. They are two different animals. Two completely different beasts. So, we’ll see how that works out for them. Let’s continue on, you know the Google affiliate network and again bashing on Google is the ripple effect is amazing. Now that they’ve announced that the Google Affiliate Network, the GAN is going to be closing there’s so much chatter in industry and there is so much questioning of why and where, where are people going to go now that you know there’s all this data and everybody is kind of searching. The advertisers are searching, the affiliates are searching and when we get back from a break I’m going to talk to you about an affiliate that I use. Again, I’m very new to this industry but still I think, I think they are doing it right and I think the more people start searching and finding the right company out there the happier they are going to be to do work with them. So we’ll be right back after this break.

Okay so we were talking about the Google Affiliate Network and I wanted to for those listening that are in the affiliate market space. Now if you are on the affiliate side you are saying to yourself I lost all of my merchant relationships and if you are on the merchant advertising side you are, and unfortunately if you are in this boat that Google was the only affiliate network that you went with you are really not sure what to do. So, I do a lot of work with Impact Radius and they’ve got on their main page now they are advertising directly to anyone who has been affected by the GAN decision, the Google Affiliate Network decision to close. They’ve got some great clients. They have American Airlines, Tommy Hilfiger, Caesar’s Entertainment, which I work with and many others. What they offer is a 50 to 80 perfect cost savings when compared to previous legacy networks.

They have direct affiliate ownerships, which is probably the most important aspect of everything that they are doing. They allow a one to one relationship between the merchants and the affiliates and other networks own that affiliate relationship which means that in Google case the merchants now need to reestablish themselves in a relationship again with even their current affiliates, which to me is crazy, right? If my relationship with Caesar’s entertainment, if Impact Radius suddenly went away the idea that within Google Affiliate Network that, that relationship that I have with Caesar’s would now completely disappear is shocking. So, what they are doing, what impact radius has, it allows the managers of the affiliate merchants to directly have the relationship with the affiliates themselves. That’s a very powerful thing. Right? I don’t need a middleman. If I need a certain promotion or if I need something that you know a banner or something to that degree, I need to be able to have the contact and have the relationship directly with that affiliate manager. Not Google Network is then going to get in contact with or however GAN did their work, right? However that was done. But in Impact Radius essentially allows you to have that one to one which is critical.

They have great technology from both the advertising merchant side and from the affiliate side and I can tell you first hand that once you get over the slight learning curve, and I have a slight learning curve only in the sense that I’m not a seasoned affiliate. So, some of these terms and some of the nuances of programs are really foreign to me. I’ll give you a perfect example I was working with an affiliate merchant and Impact Radius has these little one square images that go along with the banner and I wasn’t sure because I do advertising using the affiliate merchants banners, if it was a requirement to have that one square by one square pixel in when I provide it to my advertising. So, I was able to get on to have a conversation with their support and it took me a while to explain to them even what I was asking because I didn’t even understand what that one pixel was but essentially once they understood what I was asking, you know it was the dumbest child doesn’t even know how to ask a question or the youngest child doesn’t even know how to ask a question, it’s that they were able to very easily say no look it’s just used from the merchant side, it’s nothing to do with you, if you are doing banner advertising on an exterior site go ahead, you don’t need use that one by one pixel. It’s all for tracking purposes. But that pixel itself then they kind of told me, they went into detail as to what that pixel is really meant for. That is for better analytics and it really allows more detail to be provided both to the merchants and the affiliates side. So, it’s good. Then of course, just to kind of go back into the Impact Radius of what they offer, it’s free migration, free setup and full support. Again, I do work with them and I think they do a great job. So, let’s take another small little break and we will be right back and we’ll talk about SEOmoz, okay?

Okay, great, so let’s talk about this week SEOmoz sent out an email to all of their affiliates and honestly, I was an affiliate years ago but I guess I was still on the email mailing list but I don’t really, I’m not an affiliate of SEOmoz, but they sent out this message that they are pausing their affiliate program as of April 30th and they talk about technical changes and improvements. They don’t really go into much detail as to what made them shut something off. It’s always interesting to me that a company will decide to turn something off and in SEOmoz’s case they are saying turn something off for a limited amount of time and then it’s going to come back, well, that isn’t really always the case right? That’s what they want to make you feel but given Rand Fishkin his prop, he’s very good in the business, let’s assume it is going to come back. Why stop that momentum? If the affiliate program is doing well, assuming it was doing well then what provoke this kind of automatic change? Now they are not affiliated, they are not an affiliate of Google Affiliate Network. They are actually powered with HasOffers, I’m not familiar with HasOffers but they are just another one of those affiliate networks out there.

So, it’s separate from that so what I wanted to kind of put out there was my conspiracy theory of the week and I kind of wish I had a boom mic that can echo that and just say conspiracy theory of the week. But now we have GAN and SEOmoz exiting the affiliate industry. Let’s say that SEOmoz never goes back to the affiliate marketing. It’s interesting that the time frame is very similar. So, is there something coming down the pike and here is the conspiracy theory. Is there something coming down the pike that some of us are unaware of that could some way either affect affiliate marketing or is there some type of data that is circling out around there and secretly being passed to certain individuals or certain corporations about maybe, the way that the affiliate sales have previously been calculated and is that scaring people out of the market? Are they, you know, because look there is a lot of black hat stuff that can be done regardless whether you are doing internet marketing, SEO, SEM, affiliate marketing, that can you know, ramp up your numbers of traffic or increase the number of Facebook users that you have or you know promote you to an audience that’s never been promoted to before or whatever? Or skew the number of whatever it is?

It’s black hat meaning that it’s done unethically. Right? There is black hat, gray hat and white hat and black hat is really you are kind of using things and doing things against the wishes of Google. Gray hat is you are really pushing the envelope and white hat is really is you are really doing everything to stay within the confines of what Google wants. What Google wants always constantly changes so that is a problem in it of itself. But let’s take one and two. One is there some type of legislation that is coming down now and I haven’t really done the research and I’m talking about of ignorance. But is there some time of maybe it has to do with the taxation that’s coming into the internet. Maybe affiliates are going to be handled a certain way differently than a full sale. Now that I’ve said that it sounds extremely realistic and I will do some research by the time that this podcast airs next week. Or, is there some type of black hat software out there that is skewing the numbers of sales being presented to the merchant back allowing the affiliate to gain more sales and a larger percentage than what they are really actually producing for the merchant.

I think this is all very interesting that this is all happening now and the more that I think about it the more that taxation legislation that’s going to be coming up for the next couple of months for the Internet, that might really be the reason why some of these companies are jumping ship but it’s definitely the number one thing that’s being talked about. So, we are almost at the end and I just want to remind you, I’m Jonathan Goodman and I’m the President of Halyard Consulting. I didn’t say that too well, Halyard Consulting. Halyard is the rope that hoists the sail in a sail boat and I always like to say that we hoist our clients’ traffic and conversation and everything like that. Boats have a very big part of my life and maybe one day I’ll get into all of that at some point. You can find me on Twitter @HalyardConsult on Twitter. You can find us on Facebook.com. Our website is Halyardconsulting.com.

My book is The World of Internet Marketing, The Basics and I am working on the second book as we speak I just got a pile of work on my desk but I’m slowly building out that next book. I’m going to be speaking at the Affiliate Summit East in Philadelphia on August 18 – 20th at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am going to be speaking at SFIMA, PubCon 2013 on May 14th at the Nova South East Campus in Davey, Florida and I’m also a professor at the School of Internet Marketing. You can check out, I’m about ready to launch my Google Analytics class and then I’ll be working on my, on the Google Webmaster Tools class followed by The Google Adwords class. So, that about wraps it up here. I hope you’ve enjoyed this podcast. This is the second one and as you can see I’ve gotten much better. We are taking commercial breaks now instead of long pauses and I really hope that you help me grow this podcast and I look forward to the next time, next Friday where we will talk about a whole bunch of other news, affiliates and SEO information.

Take Care. Thanks so much.

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