The Adwords Experiment

Google was nice enough to send me a free $100 gift card for Adwords.  For anyone unfamiliar Adwords is the tool that lets you place ads in Googles search results.  You create an ad, and then bid on keywords.  The amount of competition, and your bid, determines if Google users see your ad or not.  For some keywords the competition can be fierce.  They keywords for most game related projects, however, remain very low in competition.

This ‘windfall’ represents the total marketing budget of The ZoRTS Project.  Instead of advertising a game which doesn’t exist yet it seemed like a better idea to get the word out about this blog.  The real goal is building a community of folks who can tell me when I’m saying something stupid (always appreciated) about game design.  This way the project benefits from more knowledge then I currently posses.  Also learning how Adwords works should be a marketable skill in this day and age, right?

Upon getting the gift card my first step was to contact thetrafficblogger and asked his advice.  He is my go to guy for all things blogging and social media related.  His suggestion was to start a campaign with as many keywords as possible, that have low competition, and start by bidding $.01 on clicks.  Thus began ‘The Adwords Experiment’.

The Goal: Get 10,000 hits using $100
Whoa!?!  That is a lot of hits, where did that number come from?  That goal came from TheTrafficBlogger himself.  Maybe he tossed it out randomly.  Or maybe from the point of view of a professional blogger that should be a reasonable number, he must get 10,000 hits a post…  But for a newbie like me?  It is quite the challenge.  But why not a randomly chosen big goal?  Right.  Jump in feet first!

The Method:
Week 1: One cent per click. Started July 14th to July 21st
Week 2: Two cents per click. July 22nd to July 28th
Week 3: Three center per click. July 29th to Aug 4th
Week 4: Four cents per click.  Aug 5th to Aug 11th

Now I will also be spreading the word about in other ways at the same time.  This behavior would loose points in the scientific world.  But as this is a completely new blog, its fair to allow for other traffic sources.  At the moment Reddit is my biggest source of traffic.  There could be some expansion from Empire Avenue readers.  It will also be very easy to figure out which hits came from where. So the analysis can include both with Reddit, and without.

First Hypothisis:
There is some cheap ‘magic number’ that will get me enough hits to break even between Adwords and Adsense.

Second Hypothisis:
There is some even more magic number which will net me a little profit for my trouble.

The Conclusion:
10,000 hits using only $100?  That is definitely a challenge.  We shall see if the final tally comes anywhere close.  Before collecting the data, I have no idea what to expect.  But imagine if that could be done!  Regardless of how the experiment goes over all, I’m sure this is a valuable learning experience.

There is a post qued up for tommorrow with some general thoughts and a couple things noticed about Adwords.  Expect additional posts as more is learned about Adwords.  Keep checking back for updates on the experiments progress.  Each week will get recapped on a Tuesday as an additional blog post!  As always ask questions if there is something that hasn’t been explained well.  Those kinds of questions really help me curate the blog, and help make sure the blog posts make sense as well as provide valuable information.  If you can think of anything that should be added to the experiment, comment below.

The job of an Analyst.

Carl Manneh, CEO of Mojang, replied to my tweet plugging this blog post.  I was in gamer/business nerdvanah.

Jspringfield211  Mojang Forecast, just for fun.
Carlmanneh: It sure is. Nice post, but I think your evaluation is a bit modest 😉

The strategy of being a business analyst is that you provide data based on calculations and reasonable expectations.  Did I undershoot the number?  Absolutely.  Because the numbers I generated are not for investors, they are internal business numbers.  There is a big difference between a number generated for internal use and a number generated for external use.  If I were making such predictions because the marketing department wanted to know its budget for the next three years, I would want to undershoot the number as well.  “Worst case scenario you have x% of this projected budget to sell ads with next year.”

What I did wrong in that post was state “Were Mojang Specifications to do an IPO they could be worth as much as 50 – 70 million Euro” without the qualification that the numbers were internal.  To the untrained eye it might look like I was forecasting for a different group of people then I actually was.  Or forecasting as an investor, which I was not.  I was pretending to be an employee of Mojang.

Minecraft has no reason to EVER do an IPO and never should.  Becoming a public company fundamentally changes a company in unpredictable ways (And I don’t even know the difference between a Swedish IPO and an American one).  The culture of the Mojang would be altered in a bad way.  At the moment they can take advice from fans or not as they see fit.  Pistons for example.  They are free to add or not add anything based on what they feel Minecraft is about.  In a public company situation they might feel pressure to add a ‘feature’ simply because the shareholders wanted it.  Or because the customers wanted it.  Even if it goes against the spirit of the game.

And besides, if things are going we well as Carl indicates…  They really don’t stand to gain that much more money than they already have from an IPO.  😉

"How to Think like Leonardo daVinci" by Michael Gelb

At the moment there are so many blog posts scheduled, that everyone gets a bonus post this week!  This post is inspired by 101 ways to draw more traffic to your siteIn case you don’t know The Traffic Blogger I highly recommend you check him out.  More then just blogging about blogging, he runs the incredible Just My Two Copper forum/post/community (marketing machine).  I’ve learned a lot from both of his ventures.

“98. Write about someone famous who has been dead for more than 200 years. Incorporate their story into a lesson about your niche.”

That line caused instantaneous inspiration.  Leonardo Da Vinci.  We know that he’s one of the smartest and most creative people that has ever lived.  Have there been people as smart, and as creative since or before?  Sure there have.  But we don’t know them because Leonardo was genius enough to write his thoughts and ideas down.  He kept a journal.

Years ago, while working at a bookstore, I found a book called “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci”. The cliché “It changed my life” is true.  Although I would add “In a subtle but profound way”.  I have held onto this book for years because it contains great lessons learned by studying the life and genius of da Vinci.

Keeping a journal is the piece of advice that is life altering.  Applying that advice to game design is brilliant.  Write down all your game design ideas; no matter how big or small.  All RPG character ideas, all LARP ideas, and CCG ideas.  Anything.  Once you have all these little ideas floating around in your journals, start to connect them together.

Another approach is to refine and collect those ideas in a new medium.  You might think that this blog is the original journal.  However it’s actually a refinement, a revision of that journal.  The ideas of this blog are culled out of ideas from journals.  Ideas combine and form, and become something new.  Like Alchemy.  😉

This method of taking notes and then refining them is a good way to study something.  The difference between knowledge and understanding is application.  If you can apply knowledge (data on something) in some way you gain understanding.  Start by writing down notes in a journal, and then rewriting those notes into something useful to someone else (or yourself later).  I feel that it’s important to have a hand written journal, and from that create a digital version.  Each format is a very different medium and that helps the brain process the knowledge into understanding.   

When younger I wrote angst ridden emotional junk about my current circumstances, thinking that a journal was a catalog of every emotional thing that happened mixed in with all the ideas.  Good journals are not diaries.  Avoid that temptation.  Years later you will want to throw that crap away.  Luckily I kept one diary full of angst and one journal full of ideas.  All the drawings and ideas had a much more positive emotional association years later then all the drama.  The diary got thrown out because it was too embarrassing to look at.

I should reread the book and write another book review to go with Inbound Marketing.

Woot! Ars Technica, FTW.

Thanks Ars Technica, I was looking for charts and information about overworking employees.  Great article today* from AT about overtime and crunch time.  With links to research that was pioneered by Henry Fords company around the 1900’s.  Which makes it both impossible to read and some of the oldest scientific research we have about work.  Be warned, it does not read well for those not versed in scientific research or 1900 speak.


  • The 40 hour work week is an intentional construct based on research into human productivity.
  • Overtime gives you a temporary boost in productivity, when used sparingly.
  • Prolonged overtime drives productivity DOWN.
  • Humans will voluntarily overwork themselves even when its not good for the project because they want the money.

So watch out passionate game designers.  Pay attention to your work/life balance.  Watch Penny Arcade TV to see  a group that spends tons of time at the office, but has a blast doing it.  Work hard, play hard.  With just a touch more play time, then work time.

Comment below if you feel this is interesting or stupid.  Also let me know if you are interested in research posts. Highly technical posts might not be terribly interesting.

*[Blog posts are written in advance, their post appeared about four days before the date this post went live.]