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You Scratch My Back, I’ll Scratch Yours [opportunity]

ScratchbackYou may already be familiar with Jim Kukral‘s Scratchback service. It’s a widget you place on your blog that lets people give you a monetary “tip” and then their text/link appears in the widget to everyone for a period of time (as designated by you, such as a week or a month). You specify how many links are available and how much they are — so you could have 5 links that are $25 each, and the donor’s link would then appear for 1-week.

I think there’s another interesting opportunity here — either as another function of this widget, or for someone else to create their own similar service. I’d like to see a “roll” of contributor links that are basically auctioned off to the top bidders. For example, I’d be able to specify that 5 spots exist and the price starts at $0.01. Someone bids $0.01 with their text/link and it appears in the top slot. Someone else bids $1.00 and their text/link appears in the top slot, while the prior link drops a spot. Someone else bids $2.50 and their text/link appears in the top slot, while the prior link drops a spot. And so on…

You’ll have to work out all the details, but I think you could receive a full PayPal payment of whatever the user bids, but only require them to bid a dollar (or $5, etc) above the virtual high bid. Thus in the example above, the top spot would really be $2.00 [if you have to bid $1 more than the prior bid], but since the other person bid $2.50, that person would remain in the top spot if this user bid $2.00 [and the $1.00 bid would drop a notch].

You could have it reset at the beginning of the month if you wanted. Also, the benefit to the early bidders is that they could potentially stay up in your linkboard for a lower cost than those after them.

Thus it creates a bit of competition and the market (your readers/advertisers) will determine the true value of those link spots on your Site.

Sidenote: BTW Jim, where’s the affiliate program for your service? 😉

  • Michael Wales

    Interesting idea Steve – I had an advertising network idea last night as well that is somewhat similar in respect to advertiser’s “competing” for your ad space via auction.

    The basic premise is to bring “primetime to the web,” in which advertisers pay to advertise on your site based on a unit of time, rather than eCPM or CPC.

    The Ad Widget would be use to gather usage statistics in blocks of time (prob. 15 minutes blocks), like uniques, total visits, geo location, etc.

    That data would then be used to determine a particular websites “primetime” in which purchasing an hour or two of advertising on that site would cost more than, for instance, purchasing an hour at 1AM on Saturday morning (in which traffic would be minimal).

    Advertisers could then bid on these blocks of time, in the form of an auction, up to the time in which that block occurs. Highest bidder wins the space, their ads are loaded, and they are billed (which then would make it’s way to the publisher).

    Some consideration would have to be taken into account concerning days of the week, allowing advertisers to manage a recurring campaign (example: from 6-9PM every Mon, Tues, Wed) – but I think the idea could have merit.

  • Steve Poland

    Michael, Madhens had a similar model at one time – but it didn’t work out

    I think auctioning ad space gets tough — I believe buyers want to click and buy right then, not have to wait and come back 3, 7 days later to see if they won. If they have a big ad budget, they just want to make the purchase and know where to allocate the rest of their funds next. [just my two cents]

  • Michael Wales

    Steve, I reviewed the article you linked to and I think taking into account the changes Zack mentioned (particularly, offering text ads, offering a reduced “buy open impressions”, and a consistent “advertis here” link it could work out quite well.

    My idea, is primarily based on time, and really focuses on the analysis of a publisher’s activity to give the advertiser something to actually work with. It appears as if Madhens was focusing on a much larger timescale than what I am suggesting.

    Much like the comments within that post – my idea would give companies like ABC the ability to advertise on specific blogs immediately after the airing of their television shows, promoting blogs, online video, their own show website, etc.

    Maybe an auction style format isn’t the correct way to go – what other formats can you think of? Publisher defined eCPM (with a suggestion from the service, of course), with the final price being determined by past activity data during the purchased timeframe is my first inclination.

    Your thoughts?

  • Matthew Reinbold


    Granted I am skimming, but how is what you propose (transparent, auction based fulfillment of ad in designated space) different than project wonderful ( ) ?

  • Steve Poland

    @Matthew — that looks like what I’m talking about! And you just pay for the time that your ad is displayed. Looks like a great ad service.

  • Andrew


    Has anyone done this idea yet, that you know of? It sounds like a really cool idea.

  • Steve Poland

    @Andrew – not that I’m aware of; go for it! :)

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