Watched item ending soon

December 31, 2007

Not again – The eBay MakeTrack trick

I really wish I didn’t see this one. I have people waiting for me to deliver code today and I don’t need another distraction. 😉

This listing on the most watched list has the eBay affiliate trick in it. They added the HTML code (below) to the listing description. It does 2 things. When you click on this listing, turnkeywebsite gets eBay affiliate credit for any eBay purchase you make within 7 days. Extra bonus: you become a watcher because of the “MakeTrack” trick. Just check your watched items list.

“<embed src=
http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-1751-2978-71/1?AID=5463217&PID=2658338&amp;
SID=turnkeywebsites4u.com&mpre=http%3A%2F%2Fcgi1.ebay.com%2Fws%
2FeBayISAPI.dll%3FMakeTrack%26item%3D230044368945″
height=0 width=0>”

What’s wrong with it?

1. You are not supposed to add a cookie unless a user takes positive action on your site.  From the eBay affiliate Terms & Conditions dated June 2007:

(1) Compensation.  To qualify as a payable transaction, a user must take an affirmative action, clicking on your properly-coded link in a browser or browser environment.

(4) Tracking Tags. You will not deliver any eBay-related cookies or other tracking tags to the computers of users that are merely viewing Your advertisements or while Your applications are merely active or open.

2. You can’t place eBay affiliate links on eBay.  From Ts & Cs:

(5) Affiliate Links.  You may not include affiliate links on any ebay.com page or eBay-owned page, such as an eBay listing or eBay Store.

3. You’re not supposed to tamper with the eBay system by adding listings to my watch list.

Why do I care?  I don’t really care too much, I just like to reveal information.  It does wipe out my affiliate cookies that I acquire by directing traffic to eBay. Sure, I could do the same thing – for a short while until I was busted and kicked out of the program. 

I resent people using me without my consent for their financial gain. If you create value and sell it – great. If you don’t create value but leech off an established system to use me – not great.

The top eBay affiliates earn over $1M a month. Now that’s a worthy prize but you have to be squeaky clean because CJ/eBay looks at you with a microscope when you hit $10,000 a month.

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My Blog’s Most Viewed Posts this month

So long 2007.

Here’s the most popular posts of Dec. 2007. Time for me to upgrade to a better blog setup so I can get perfect stats to slice and dice.

  1. Another eBay Pulse manipulator – Kekoa64 has a challenger
  2. Jeff Paul’s Shortcuts to Internet Millions
  3. Outstanding Paper on How Sellers Manipulate eBay Pulse to Gain Watchers -Kekoa64 update
  4. Watching Kekoa64, Josh Kulp and MysteryG
  5. QuickBooks Simple Start 2008 v Microsoft Accounting -Both Free but Which One?

Shoemoney posted the stats and finances for his blog yesterday. As always, Jeremy provides accurate and useful info for people who make a living on the internet.

December 30, 2007

MicroPlace.com – international microfinancing that yields a return

Filed under: Cool Ecomm sites — estreet @ 8:35 pm
Tags: , , ,

Pierre Omidyar – founder of eBay – stated at the 2006 eBay Developers Conference that he was focused on international microfinance. It took me a while to understand what he was talking about.

Microfinance is peer to peer lending. You lend $100 to a farmer in Eastern Europe to buy seed and fertilizer or a female store owner in South East Asia to buy goods for a marketplace store. Within a year, they pay you back. The qualified borrowers are very experienced business owners who need money to grow their business.

Kiva.org

This photo is of a farmer in Bolivia who borrowed $600 to buy a milk cow. She sells the milk and has repaid $200 of her $600 loan.

eBay acquired MicroPlace.com in October. They pay a return on your investment. Kiva.org is a non-profit and does not yield interest.

Here’s a great summary of the two companies: Kiva vs MicroPlace-whats the difference

I think I’ll give MicroPlace.com a try in 2008.

There is a company called Prosper.com that offers peer to peer lending for people in the US. I took a quick peek and saw borrowers wanting to consolidate their consumer debt. No way. These are high risk loans to people who don’t know how to manage money. Yuck!

prosper

eBay Mystery auctions

Filed under: eBay pulse — estreet @ 11:46 am
Tags: ,

Here’s some sweet mystery auctions. I’m partial to sugar. These listings fall just below the Pulser listings.
eBay Mystery Auction

These sellers use the old fashioned method in getting watchers; they promote their listings using their networks to get on the eBay Pulse.

If you look at the Candy Cane listing, they promote the listing by showing snapshots of their my eBay page with the number of watchers highlighted. There are also some folks involved with listing promotion such as ezauctionpixels.com and myfatbelly.com.

See the Most watched Mystery Auctions

Complete list of most watched items in the Everything Else category

What is the attraction to Mystery Auctions? I think it’s similar to scratch and win lottery cards. You kind of expect to lose but there is that chance…

December 27, 2007

Smoooooth user interface on MyBannerMaker.com

This site has a stunningly smooth, beautiful and simple user interface.
mybannermaker

It uses jQuery open source Javascript. Javascript runs within your browser and can query the server side without reloading the entire page. This is known as AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML).

eBay has a new Javascript showcase on sellers’ store page views. It looks like Auctiva’s flash showcase but it is really JS. eBay also uses a lot of Javascript in their new playground.  Checkout the new “Snapshot view”.  It’s a little busy though.  eBay needs to darken the background behind the popup.

javascript ebay

Another thing www.mybannermaker.com does right is they off-load the photo hosting complexity and expense. They upload the banners they create to http://www.imageshack.us for hosting.

Smart, smart, smart!!!

I’m working on pulling jQuery into AuctionCritters.com. The banner creation code is complete and the user interface is next in line.

Ajax

December 26, 2007

How is a Get-Rich-Quick ripoff different from a scam?

Filed under: Get Rich Quick schemes — estreet @ 7:30 pm
Tags: , , , ,

A friend’s father paid $7,000 to Paramount Marketing Group Online Inc. for a web page last week. And here is wonderful work of art: http://www.5317.supereasyshopping.com/

Thanks to the following articles, he recovered his money through his credit card company.
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/276/RipOff0276387.htm
http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/0/229/RipOff0229876.htm

A couple of identical requests from the top eBay Pulsers made me stop and think: What is a scam? First according to Wikipedia,

A Get-rich-quick scheme is a plan to acquire high rates of return for a small investment. Most such schemes promise that participants can obtain this high rate of return with little risk.

Most get-rich-quick schemes also promise that little skill, effort, or time is required. They often assert that wealth can be obtained by working at home.

This is the part I like, “Economic theory states that risk-free opportunities for profit are not stable, because they will quickly be exploited by arbitrageurs.”

This means that once you sell a get rich secret, the niche is gone because there are too many people exploiting it. The competition will take all of the profit out of the trick.

This means get rich secrets don’t have much value once they are sold.

Now on to the difference between a ripoff and a scam. I use Wikipedia because it’s a good concensus of generally accepted opinions:

A ripoff (or rip-off) is a bad deal. Usually it refers to an incident in which a person pays too much for something. A ripoff is distinguished from a scam in that a scam involves wrongdoing such as fraud; a ripoff, on the other hand, is in the eye of the beholder. A scam might involve, for instance, a scheme in which a person pays $20 for a startup kit related to stuffing envelopes for a living, but the kit never arrives; upon receiving the money, the recipient flees.

A ripoff, on the other hand, might be a business opportunity in which a person pays $375 for bulk vending machines worth $75. The fact that the advertised product actually arrives – even though it is worth far less than the purchase price – makes it a ripoff, not a scam.

If a product is delivered, it is not a scam. So I stand corrected. The word “scam” was removed from my posts. 😉

www.ripoffreport.com provides a community that can help you determine if other people have had bad experiences with an organization. They also provide recourse information so you can best assess how to get your money back.

December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Filed under: eBay — estreet @ 8:07 pm
Tags: ,

thumbdoes.jpg

Merry Chrismas Cristmas Christmass Xmas!

Check out how some eBayers spell Christmas in their auction titles: www.esellerstreet.com/mzplt.php?keywords=christmas
Misspelled eBay auctions

Try it with your own keywords: www.esellerstreet.com/mzplt.php

December 19, 2007

Watching Kekoa64, Josh Kulp and MysteryGiant for 24 hours – The mechanics behind the high watcher count

There are three top eBay sellers featured on the eBay Pulse (Pulsers) who have tens of thousands of watchers on their listings: Kekoa64, MysteryGiant, and Josh Kulp (jjfjq). To have this many eBay watchers on a listing, you need: #1. a way to generate the watchers, and #2. a method to keep watchers on an eBay listing after it terminates.

I made a discovery on #1 – how they generate the eBay watchers. Short story: Kekoa64 and Josh Kulp both added 730 watchers in 24 hours. The watchers were generated by an automated software script (a cron job), no people involved at all!

Long story: I gathered the watch count data for the 3 most watched eBay listings over the past 24 hours using the eSeller Street watcher page. The data was gathered in 15 minute increments and in the Central Time zone.
Kekoa64, Josh Kulp, MysteryGiant

The similarity in Kekoa64’s and Josh Kulp’s watchers should jump out at you. Except for the starting number of watchers, kekoa64 -73,026 vs Josh Kulp -56,275, they add watchers in an identical manner. In fact, not only are they using the same automated script, but I think they are using the same server!

Key points on the Kekoa64 watcher chart and the Josh Kulp watcher chart which match the pink numbers (1,2,3,4) on the charts:

  1. Both listings get exactly 1 watcher every 90 seconds from 6:15 PM until 4:30 AM CT. I double checked that the watchers were added every 90 seconds by sampling the data every minute.
  2. There is a glitch between 12:00 AM & 12:30 AM. No watchers are added between 12:00 & 12:15, but 2 watchers are added every 90 seconds from 12:15 to 12:30. This leads me to believe they are running on the same server.
  3. Both listings remain at approximately the same watcher number (< 7 additional watchers) between 4:30 AM & 12:15 PM.
  4. At 12:30 PM, each listing starts to get 2 watchers per 90 seconds but then slows down to 1 watcher per 90 seconds.

MysteryGiant is not running the script during this period and his chart is completely flat. This is an excellent control case to show that these listings do not get many watchers on their own. His watchers started at 67,602 and ended up just 2 watchers 24 hours later. The next day he started a new listing with 70,937 watchers and incremented it 1 watcher per minute using his own script.

Here’s the watch count near the end of the period taken at 5:00pm Dec. 18, 2007.
kekoa64, MysteryGiant, Josh Kulp jjfjq watchers on Dec 18, 2007

Take a look at the actual listings:

So which URL or link does the software script access every 90 seconds to add a watcher? I don’t know. I think it has something to do with the guest watcher feature and all of the watchers are just guest watchers.

This script separates the top pulsers from the other sellers who acquire watchers using the embedded “MakeTrack” links. The “eBay Pulse code” or “MakeTrack” trick relies on people visiting your listing so that the listing is forced into your eBay watch list without your knowledge. In contrast, the script adds watchers independent from the number of hits to the listings.

You can see the MakeTrack trick in action on http://turnkeywebsites4u.com/. If you visited this site while you were logged into eBay, you are now watching their listing. Look for this HTML code on the page source:
make track trick to get eBay watchers
Link 1 calls the eBay MakeTrack URL which tells eBay to save the listing number in your watched items list. Link 2 does the same plus adds an affiliate cookie to your PC so that they get commissions on your eBay purchases. Of course, link 2 violates Commission Junction/eBay policy in that a visitor must take positive action on your site to get a cookie. e.g. Unless a visitor clicks something on your site, you are not supposed to force a cookie on a PC by using a popup window which is similar in nature to using the embed tag.

Well, that’s a lot to digest for today. MysteryGiant just started a listing with 70,937 watchers last night. That’s the next piece of the puzzle.

December 15, 2007

DefendDrew.com website traffic stats – 2 million hits in 2 days?

The Defend Drew Peterson website, defenddrew.com, was set up to get donations for Drew’s legal defense – Joel Brodsky. He has not yet been charged or named a suspect in his 3rd wife’s death or 4th wife’s disappearance. But the site was overwhelmed with 1/2 million hits in 4 or 5 hours. Perhaps they should distribute the traffic across several websites:

Drew Peterson website domain names PayJoel.com, PayJoelBrodsky.com

Chicago radio personality Steve Dahl offered these improvements:

  • For a $10 donation to Drew, you will receive a commemorative bullet hole shaped magnet. – Stacy said Drew fired a shot in their home, Drew said she fired it from her Glock.
  • For $25, you get a “Come Back, Stacy” boomerang.

They shut down the site within 48 hours and released this:
“The Drew Peterson Legal Defense Fund has met its short term goal, so we are shutting down the web site. Peterson thanks the public for their generous response to his request for support. If additional support is needed in the future we may reestablish the web site.”

Alexa Traffic stats for DefendDrew.com show they peaked at #21,000 in worldwide website traffic rank. eBay is #20 for comparison. However, Alexa does a 3 day average on their stats. This pulls down 1 day spikes in traffic by 2/3. Accounting for this, I guestimate the site actually peaked around top #10,000 on Dec 12. Anything above #100,000 is pretty impressive, especially when the site is open for just 2 days.

defenddrew.com traffic stats

I did a rough calculation based on my own Alexa relative stats and actual quantitative Statcounter stats. I come up with 100,000 hits to defenddrew.com on Dec. 12, not 1,000,000. Anyone else have any stats on this site’s traffic?

December 12, 2007

Drew Peterson turns to website to get $$$

Heard of Drew Peterson? He’s the 53 year old retired Bolingbrook, IL, police sargent who’s 23 year old wife, Stacy, went missing on Oct 28. Well, he lives close to me.

In fact, I live within 4 miles of two allegedly murdered women. Lisa Stebic was a Lunch Lady at my daughter’s elementary school. Lisa went missing on May 1, 2007.
Drew Peterson, Craig Stebic, Stacy Peterson, Lisa Stebic

Drew Peterson has been a laughable, self-centered suspect from the beginning. He’s entertained and appalled me with his American flag scarf over his face, multiple interviews on the Today show, interviews with Dr. Phil and now, on his own website. www.DefendDrew.com was set up by Drew Peterson and his attorney to help with defense costs.
defend drew peterson

Now, the DefendDrew.com website is either down or their server has been overwhelmed by traffic. They said they got over 1 million hits yesterday. It’s contents are pretty consistent with everything he’s said or done over the past month. One photo of Drew and Stacy and then 6 Paypal “Donate Now” buttons at the bottom with amounts from $5 to $250. If 0.1% of the alleged 2 million visitors to his website donated $5 each, then he would get $10K. I can’t see more than a fraction of a percent of the people donating anything.

Update: The lawyer closed the site after just 36 hours stating: 1. they “achieved what they wanted” and 2. it was a lightning bolt attracting too much attention. It’s a marketers dream! Too much traffic. Let’s write this recipe down: 1. kill 3rd wife, 2. kill 4th wife, 3. wear American flag scarf over face, … Launch hugely popular website! 

DefendDrew.com shows “closed”. No HTML, just the word closed. What’s really weird is that the site is hosted in Hong Kong. Who in the world hosts their site in Hong Kong, the land of expensive real estate?

Which cash-back shopping site should you use? FatWallet vs BigCrumbs

FatWallet.com and BigCrumbs.com both pay you back a portion of their affiliate commission when you click through their links to make an online purchase. Most online retailers pay 1% to 10% affiliate commissions to websites that send buyers to them. FatWallet pioneered the model of paying part of their commission back to buyers.

How do the cash back amounts compare between BigCrumbs (CrumbSaver) and FatWallet? Here’s a few.

  1. SharperImage.com
    • BigCrumbs 4%
    • Fatwallet 8%
  2. BestBuy.com
    • BigCrumbs 1.5%
    • FatWallet Not Offered
  3. Dell.com
    • BigCrumbs 0.5%
    • FatWallet 3.0%
  4. BarnesandNoble.com
    • BigCrumbs 2.5%
    • FatWallet 4.2%
  5. Borders.com
    • BigCrumbs 3%
    • FatWallet 2%
  6. Target.com
    • BigCrumbs 1.5 – 5%
    • FatWallet 4.4 – 6%


Summary:

  • Highest payout – Generally FatWallet is better compared to BC’s CrumbSaver
  • Number of Retailers Offered – BigCrumbs 205, FatWallet 519
  • Works with eBay – BigCrumbs
  • Cash for Referring others – Big Crumbs
  • Gives to Charity – FatWallet
  • Trustworthiness – Tie, both are excellent.
  • Payments – BigCrumbs uses PayPal, FatWallet pays with Checks

I recommend using FatWallet when buying from most retailers. Use BigCrumbs for buying from eBay or other sites not offered by FatWallet. This recommendation especially holds true if you are a BigCrumbs CrumbEarner since you get a lower percentage on your own purchases.

Sharper Image on FatWallet.com
Sharper Image on FatWallet.com

Sharper Image on BigCrumbs.com
Sharper Image on BigCrumbs.com

Footnote: I determined the number of retailers each site offered by copying the web page source code from each of their main “browse retailers” pages, looking at their HTML structure and finding the retailer instances.

December 10, 2007

How to find the number of watchers on an eBay item – works for US and UK

The eBay Pulse page shows you the most watched items. But here’s how you find the actual number of watchers on those items. Until now, only the eBay seller had access to the number of watchers on an item.

This link shows you the most watched items in the collectibles category on eBay.com: http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=1. Either a category or a keyword must be entered to get results. It’s an eBay API restriction.

most watched eBay collectibles

You will also see the most popular keywords in the category. For example, popular keywords in the collectibles category are Harley Davidson, Precious Moments, baseball cards, …

You can also search by price and number of bids. I like seeing the number of bids on an item to gain insight on what’s hot.

Use this link to find the Pulsers in the Everything Else category. http://esellerstreet.com/search.php5?catID=99

Looking for the number of watchers on a particular seller’s items? You need to enter keywords from their listings. It’s another eBay requirement that you can’t search by sellerID. But don’t worry, I’m working on it.

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