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May 03, 2007

Filipino is first SEO World Champion

Fellow Pinoy blogger and SEO specialist Benj Arriola won the recently concluded SEO World Championship (blogged about it more than 3 months ago) sponsored by GetUpdated/EastPoint.

Not only does Benj gets the bragging rights as a kick-ass SEO champ, he also gets to take home a brand new car — a Citroen C2. Read all about Benj’s thank you speech here. *hehe* The complete list of contest winners can be found here.

And that kick-ass Citroen C2 prize is not a brand of bottled ice tea but a car.

Citroen C2

Benj has these 3 tips to share:

1. Content is still king! Good content keep people stay, comeback and spread the news in a natural manner.
2. Design is still important, not that is has to be really superb, but at least it does not look bad that people will not trust you nor the content of your website. Make it clean and presentable to help drive more traffic, world-of-mouth and more effective website link baiting.
3. And SEO is a pay-it-forward type of industry. The more help you give out to other people, the more help you receive when you need it.

Congratulations to Benj for uplifting the name of Philippines in the world of SEO. Hat tip to Abel for emailing me. :)

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May 03, 2007

5 Fine Things I Love About Netvibes

Whenever I can, I try to encourage friends and fellow bloggers to use Netvibes. I think it’s one of the coolest Web 2.0 app out there. So, in order to persuade them into using a feed reader, I also highlight other uses of Netvibes as a start page. Still, I’m interested in them using it as a feed reader so they could add me up on their feed list. :D

Continue Reading

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May 02, 2007

Pinoy Travel Blog on RPN 9

As mentioned earlier in our BoBCast (Episode 7), my other group blog (Pinoy Travel Blog, Best Tourism Website) recently won the DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards 2007 along with fellow bloggers Marc, Noemi & Manuel. Check out the really nice trophy that came with it.

I also had a quick interview on RPN 9 (video c/o Janette). Hopefully, that got us more readers over there. :)

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May 02, 2007

Digg chooses Sponsors over Users?

[ Digg this! ] The ongoing digital revolt over at Digg can be easily summed up with this nice picture of their frontpage:

Digg HD DVD Fiasco

Short story?
1) Hex Code to Crack HD-DVD DRM released
2) Stories submitted on Digg and went to the frontpage
3) Digg receives DMCA notice
4) Digg deletes all stories about the HD-DVD hack
5) Diggers found out HD-DVD sponsored Diggnation
6) Diggers revolt against censorship
6) All stories on the Digg frontpage now displays the HD-DVD fiasco

And the magic code that broke the wisdom of the crowd — 09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0.

[tags]digg, fiasco, hd-dvd, hex code, kevin rose, jay adelson, 09-F9-11-02-9D-74-E3-5B-D8-41-56-C5-63-56-88-C0[/tags]

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May 02, 2007

Online payment processor e-Gold to shut down?

When e-commerce activities aren’t supported by Paypal, throngs of other alternatives thrive to get a piece of the pie. I’ve tried StormPay before though some of my old friends have been using e-Gold as well. However, e-Gold may face the possibility of shutting down soon:

Three owners of online payment processor E-Gold and an affiliated company have been indicted for money laundering and related crimes for allegedly allowing sellers of child pornography, operators of investment scams and other types of criminals to send and receive payments related to their misdeeds. The company vigorously denied the charges and accused prosecutors of fabricating testimony.

In addition to E-Gold, the four-count indictment names Gold & Silver Reserve and company owners Douglas L. Jackson of Satellite Beach, Florida; Reid A. Jackson of Melbourne, Florida; and Barry K. Downey of Woodbine, Maryland. They are charged with one count each of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business, operating an unlicensed money transmitting business under federal law and money transmission without a license under the District of Columbia.

According to prosecutors, E-Gold’s status as the preferred payment method from some of Earth’s lowest life forms was for good reason. The online service was purportedly backed by stored physical gold, and all that was needed to open an account was a valid email address. No other contact information or background information was necessary.

The service is allegedly being used by child pornographers and similar activities. Full story from the Register.

I can now imagine all of my friends withdrawing their e-Gold or trading them with real-life or tangible currencies.

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May 01, 2007

BoBCast Ep. 7: Tarsiers & a Geek’s Guide to Traveling

Band of Bloggers Podcast, Episode 7: Tarsiers and a Geek’s Guide to Traveling (Special Travel Edition)
Hosted by: Yuga
Guests: Aileen, Chris, Gail, Marc, Sharm, Rico & Sasha
Time: 26 minutes, 07 secs.

Show Notes:

BoBB (Band of Bloggers in Bohol) boo boo
Best Online Booking Service – PAL, Air Phils or Cebu Pacific?
Airport Security & Sneaking in Fake Goods
NTC Online Content Registration Proposal
First website and Hosting Service
DigitalFilipino.com Web Awards
Sponsor the BoBCast!
Upcoming BoB Trips

We recorded this podcast at the Metro Cebu International Airport in Mactan while waiting to board the plane back to Manila this evening.

The Band of Bloggers Podcast (BoBCast) is now accepting travel sponsorships and/or podcast advertising. Contact me for details.

We’d also like to thank our patrons/sponsors for our upcoming trips and podcasts (Office of Sen. Kiko Pangilinan in his KKK Trip from Laoag to Manila and dinner with Yehey.com executives).

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May 01, 2007

BoB bids goodbye to Bohol

There are things best described with imagery so we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Tagbilaran, Bohol

The Band of Bloggers in Bohol.

[tags]tagbilaran, bohol, chocolate hills, tarsier, floating restaurant, dumaluan beach, shell museum, loboc church[/tags]

P.S.
If you want the Band of Bloggers to visit your place, call anyone of us in our contact page and maybe we can arrange something. We’ll soon launch our official website and open advertising for a Sponsor a BoB Trip package.;)

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April 30, 2007

NTC: All your blogs are belong to us!

Now, this has got to be the funniest idea I have ever heard in years. From Mike Abundo, the NTC wants everyone to register their websites, blogs, podcasts, pictures, and all other digital data posted on the net.

The National Telecommunication Commission plans to classify Web sites and other data posted on the Internet as a value added service that needs to registered with the government.

In the preliminary hearing of a draft memorandum circular on value added services, Edgardo Cabarrios, NTC director for common carrier and authorization department, said contents of Web sites such as Yahoo could be classified as a value added service in so far as its delivery is concerned.

“Telecom is delivery of content. When content is delivered it becomes a telecom service,” Cabarrios said.

Un-fracking-believable! I’m just speechless.

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April 29, 2007

Is technology slowly enslaving us?

Well, at least some of us who are hooked to it. When we planned to go here in Bohol, half of us promised not to bring a laptop (except me and Marc). We can’t live by without hooking up online (thanks to Globe & Smart 3G) and doing our usual rounds of checking email and reading feed readers.

Not only it has become a part of our daily routine but because our “work” requires us to do so. It did not come as a surprise that at one time or another, even those who said they won’t not go only would grab a quick look and do a post or check their emails for some unexpected or urgent emails.

Payag Restaurant
The Band of Bloggers at Payag Restaurant, Tagbilaran City, Bohol

Are we just net addicts? Maybe. Or I think it’s because most of what we do is so dependent on technology. Let’s just look at the email. Before, we used to send out snail mail and it would take weeks and even months to for an exchange to come around. We had tons of time to write back. Now, it has bee reduced to minutes, even seconds thru email. Well, that would have been great right? Of course, yes, mostly yes.

But and that’s a big BUT , multiply that exchange by the dozen or worse, by the hundreds, and you’re practically swamped — unable to respond to email communications in a timely manner. In my case, I have unanswered emails as far back as 4 weeks ago.

Maybe I’m just disorganized and lazy, I don’t know. All I know is that they’re all piling up on me and like many others out there, I cannot virtually live without it. Is technology really slowly enslaving us?

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April 28, 2007

BoB flies to Cebu

The Band of Bloggers flew to Cebu last night aboard the Cebu Pacific Airlines. We’re now en route to Tagbilaran, Bohol for our 3-day tour. The Macalua strikes again with his series of unfortunate events and misses our flight. I hope he gets an earful from the Sharmskee. They’ll be catching up early today and hopefully with no more misfortunes.

Band of Bloggers

We spent the night at Cebu City thinking we could burn the night away at some bar (Tapas Lounge) without sleep then head on to the SuperCat port for the first early morning trip.

Tapas Lounge, Cebu City

We also met several Cebu bloggers.

bob-bloggers.jpg

We yielded to several rounds of beer and mai tai so a quick nap at Queensland Hotel was the best thing we could think of. More coverage and pictures when we get to Tagbilaran. :)

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April 27, 2007

Ratified.org – Tracking the Top Philippine Blogs

I’ve been maintaining my old list of the Philippine Top 100 Blogs according to Technorati for a year now. A lot of bloggers are curious how I maintain it and some even thought it was done automagically (!). I wish I was able to update it automatically on a daily basis. Nope, I don’t have the same PHP programming prowess like that of Andrew.

Check out his Ratified.org project and yup, Drew says it was inspired by my earlier list. This one is way, way much better and it also includes ranking for Feedburner chicklet count. Go check out if your blog is already added there.

Drew emailed me about it and asked for advice on how to improve the system and to make it really exciting for Filipino bloggers. Here are some of my thoughts:

  • Add other blog widget details such as Alexa Rank, MyBlogLog, Blog Juice Rating, Page Strength, Blog Worth, etc.
  • Add Categories and allow visitors to view the ranks based on those categories.
  • Compute the over-all ranking based on a formula, not just Technorati. One can start by averaging the individual ranks — rank on Technorati + rank on Feedburner + rank on Alexa + rank on Blog Juice divided by the total number of ranking factors.
  • Add a graph feature that allows visitors to compare 2 or more blogs based on their rankings or raw data.

Anyway, as I saw Bryan Veloso’s AvalonStar ranking #1 on Technorati and #2 on Feedburner, I also noticed that his overall Technorati rank is #19! That basically puts him on THE Technorati 100 Popular Blogs. However, he’s not listed and I now realize why.

Technorati does a hand job on the 100 Popular Blog list by removing blogs that have undue advantage over the rest. That includes bloggers that release free templates with footer links to their blog, WordPress plugin developers, widgets like the Blog Worth Calculator and incidental bloggers who attempt to game the Technorati system (one example is the 2000 Bloggers Project).

That move by Technorati makes sense but it will be Andrew’s call if he considers the same. Otherwise, some might call the list Top WordPress Theme Designers (who are also bloggers). :)

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April 26, 2007

Samsung 32″ HDTV and XBox 360 Party

At long last, my envy for Marc’s LCD TV has been quenched. It’s been on my wish list since Christmas. So, when Bimbo said I could get my share from our annual dividends from MotorcyclePhilippines, I spared no time in getting one for myself.

The precious thing is now perched on top of my samurai corner table and it’s a beauty. It comes with those 4 long standing speakers but they will be delivered later.

Samsung LCD TV

So, I’m borrowing the Macalua XBox 360 and we’re holding an NBA Live! 2007 Party here in my pad. Let’s have a contest. This could happen next week after we get back from Bohol.

Sign up now! ;)

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April 26, 2007

Has Firefox lost its flame?

Some people say that others use Mozilla Firefox not because they loved the functionalities it provides but because they just hate Internet Explorer (or they hate Bill Gate’s guts). It’s like a bandwagon effect against the monopoly or the establishment.

With the release of IE integrating tabbed browsing (the first feature I love about FF), the gap between the two browsers have closed in. Again, there are other alternatives out there that are as robust (others even faster) as Firefox. Now, the number of Firefox users have climbed to a level (2-digit figure) that one can no longer consider it as a minority. That label may now be passed on to Maxthon (which Google bought into) and the ever-social Flock browser.

Will the day come that people will start leaving Firefox? Has Firefox lost its flare?

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April 25, 2007

PodPress plugin and HTML-stripped feeds

While we’re on the topic of Feedburner and RSS readership, I’d like to note that I am aware of my blog feed issue.

For those of you who left a comment recently and emailed me about the HTML-stripped feeds, my apologies. It wasn’t intentional as some would suggest I did it to get more site clicks.

Apparently, the podcasting plugin PodPress that I installed earlier had some bugs that affected my feed layout. All HTML tags, URL links and images are no longer showing up. It looks like this has been happening for several weeks already and I thought it was just caused by my feed reader. It’s just today that I found the culprit. I could disable the plugin but its a very important tool we use in publishing our BoBCast.

Anyway, I’m looking to upgrading to the latest version of the plugin or do a fix once I get them.

For the meantime, please bear that terrible chunk of text in your feed reader or visit the blog instead until I find the final solution to the problem.

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April 25, 2007

Is Feedburner the new readership currency?

Before, when someone asks what’s your blog readership, you’re most likely answer based on the number of unique visitors you get. Recently however, with the widespread use of Feedburner and it’s Feedcount chicklet, we’re seeing a slow shift of identifying readership with the total count of RSS subscribers.

Over at Self Made Minds, a running list of Top 100 Blogs based on RSS subscribers is currently being compiled with Engadget again leading the pack at 601,000+ subscribers followed by Boing-boing at 416,000. The list seemed to be dominated by tech blogs (~75%) too.

The Online Marketing Blog narrowed the list down to search marketing blogs and Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land adds that feed counts has now become the preferred currency for blogs seeking respect.

Of course, that feedcount chicklet serves as badge that confirms people are actually reading your blog and not just glancing at it once in a while. It’s not a definite count since some regular readers might not be familiar with RSS readers yet I feel that sometimes those numbers are a good way to attract more readers/subscribers.

So, when was the time when you stopped worrying about pageviews and started focusing on your feed readership?

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April 24, 2007

Why I want 20 million pageviews a month?

What 20 million pageviews a month can get you that regular Adsense Publishers don’t have? Well, aside form the humongous eyeballs and potential earnings from being one of the top publishers around, you get to enjoy being an AdSense Premium Publisher.

Amit has a rundown of what perks and privileges one gets when they’re part of the elite AdSense Publisher group.

  • Option not to put advertising labels.
  • Flexible ad formatting and layout schemes.
  • Dedicated Google AdSense Account Manager
  • Lifting of content type limitations (sex, gambling, etc.) — though not sure why this is so.
  • Tailor-fit revenue terms.

Amit forgot to mention the limited edition schwags that Google sends its publishers every holiday season. Locally, you’d see sites like Yehey and Inquirer.net being part of this premium publisher circle. I’m sure we’ll be seeing GMANews.tv to follow suit in a couple of months. I wonder how much traffic Manila Bulletin and PhilStar generate on their site. PinoyExchange as well, though I remember it was in the 14 million range.

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April 24, 2007

OpenDNS introduces Shortcuts

Here’s a simple but very useful way to expand on OpenDNS’s staple of services — address bar shortcuts. If you’re not yet familiar with OpenDNS and how it works, check out my previous post on how it can help you with your ISP’s intermittent DNS problems.

With OpenDNS Shortcuts, you can now assign words or group of letters to mean some frequestly visited URLs. An example here is Yahoo! Mail:

OpenDNS Shortcuts

All you need to do, if you’re already using OpenDNS, is to open an account and sign in, create your shortcuts and type away. Really neat.

[tags]opendns, dns, shortcuts[/tags]

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April 23, 2007

What is a visit?

The topic on what constitutes a single unique visit has been discussed so many times but until today the debate is still ongoing. A journalist once called me up to clarify the idea of a unique visitors for a story he’s researching on and all of the people he’d asked told him a slightly different definition. I added that the whole “site visit” definition is dependent on the tool that’s measuring it.

Continue Reading

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April 23, 2007

Cobra Microtalk for the Geek Travelers

In the last couple of months that the Band of Bloggers have been traveling — Tagaytay, Bataan, Puerto Galera, Punta Fuego, Pampanga — one of the very crucial leg of our trips is maintaining the convoy to the destination. Volumes of text messages and hours of call times are exchanged amidst confusion and sometimes frustration sets in. We even joke at times that since a couple of us have Globe Visibility and Smart 3G, we should log in to our individual Skype accounts and do voice chats instead (much less expensive!).

So, I thought of a better solution — bring a walkie talkie.

Cobra Microtalk

We got a Cobra Microtalk with a line of sight range of about 3 miles. We tried it out in Punta Fuego and it delivered just fine even though we’re on opposite sides of a hill. The chargers were bulky so one can opt to use disposable double A batteries instead.

The problem was we’ve been playing with the two-way radios too often that when the time comes we really needed it (going back home), the batteries have depleted and I got lost at the Sta. Rosa exit. So, for our Bohol trip this week-end, it stays in the bag on stand-by.

Still, its fun playing with it. 10-4. Roger!

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April 22, 2007

Internet Penetration in the Philippines

According to a friend of mine, ACNielsen doesn’t have any relevant internet-usage research studies in the Philippines. This is the same topic I brought up during the iBlog3 — no extensive public study has been made in recent years about internet penetration and online usage behavior in the country.

So, when the issue of Internet Usage in the Philippines was tackled, everyone had their own numbers to throw out. Some would say 20% while others maintain the slow growth rate of 12%. While digging a little deeper into this topic, I found several statistics and research studies from the Internet World Stats and here are some of the figures I found there:

Philippines estimated population: 87,236,532 (2006); 84,174,092 (2005); 78,181,900 (2000)

Internet Users (2000): 2,000,000 (source: ITU)

Internet Usage (2000): 2.6%

Internet Users (2005): 7,820,000 (source: C.I.Almanac)

Internet Usage (2005): 9.3%

While the latest data was taken at the end of 2005, the growth of internet users must have also increased by then. However, also bear in mind that the population is also growing so that percentage shouldn’t have been affected that much. Still, the internet usage growth rate from 2000 is 291%. If you extrapolate that, we could make an educated guess of 10.15 Million for 2007 or 11.6% penetration.

Compare that to neighboring countries such as Malaysia (47.8%), Hong Kong (68.2 %), Singapore (66.3%) and we’re way behind. Although there are others like Vietnam (17.5 %), Thailand (12.5%), China (10.4%) and Indonesia (4.5%) so we’re really not that far behind. *heh*

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April 22, 2007

Google Personal Web History

Here’s another step closer for Google to fully evolve into the personalized search service — Personal Web History. If you haven’t heard of it yet, you might have not also noticed that link on your Google search resulta page when you’re logged in to your Google Account.

See screenshot below:

Search History

With Web History, you’ll be able to:

* View and manage your web activity. You know that great web site you saw online and now can’t find? From now on, you can. With Web History, you can view and search across the full text of the pages you’ve visited, including Google searches, web pages, images, videos and news stories. You can also manage your web activity and remove items from your web history at any time.

* Get the search results most relevant to you. Web History helps deliver more personalized search results based on what you’ve searched for on Google and which sites you’ve visited. You might not notice a big impact on your search results early on, but they should steadily improve over time as you use Web History.

* Follow interesting trends in your web activity. Which sites do you visit frequently? How many searches did you do between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.? Web History can tell you about these and other interesting trends on your web activity.

To some, that might sound cool. To others, it could be scary. :D

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April 22, 2007

Full feeds vs. Partial feeds: No difference?

In my previous entry about “5 Ways to Kill your RSS Subscribers“, I pointed out that summary feeds can turn off potential RSS subscribers. Others pointed out that providing full feeds will reduce your blog pageviews and open the gateways for scraper sites to copy your entire post. A lot of factors have been weighed in and though we aren’t really sure about how much it affects our readership or our blog’s stickiness, we often rely on our own experiences.

A recent post at the Feedburner blog debunks the notion that you get more clicks when you use summary feeds:

As people subscribe to feeds, they subscribe to more feeds. And that means they’re consuming more content, which means that each click out of the feed reader is taking the reader away from more content. In other words, feed reading is consumption-oriented, not transactionally focused. We’ve seen no evidence that excerpts on their own drive higher clickthroughs.

Though the comment was not substantiated with actual statistics, Feedburner manages 663,294 feeds and I’m sure that sample size can give us a more accurate data on feed reading behaviors of subscribers.

I used to think that summary feeds are the way to go until I switched to full feeds knowing that I could retain more readers that way. Besides, I believe that my regular readers are not only after what I wrote but with the comments other readers have left on the blog as well — and that earns me the clickthrough to my blog, not the summary feed.

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April 22, 2007

Dangers of Twitter and other horrific possibilities

I thought the discussion about Twitter (see J Angelo’s counter on Joab) was over until Steve Rubel of Micropersuasion (a PR executive) published an open letter of apology to Jim Louderback (Editor-in-Chief of PC Magazine) about his comment on Twitter:

Twitter

I think Steve should have posted a 140-character apology on Twitter and not his blog. *snicker*

Steve Rubel

Imagine if other more influential people would use Twitter?

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Twitter: Sana natuluyan na asawa ko. Puro kamalasan na lang kase.

First Gentlemen Jose Miguel Arroyo on Twitter: Good thing ‘di ako binisita ng kabit ko sa hospital! Natuluyan sana ako.

US Vice President Dick Cheney: Not sure how to beat Obama and Hilary. I should invite them duck hunting.

US President George Bush: Losing approval rating… need more oil… maybe bomb Kuwait next. Think, think.

Ok, ‘nuf of this Twitter thing. *hehehe*

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April 21, 2007

Google Adsense says no to Traffic Exchange

I covered a story about StumbleUpon and Google Adsense here over two months ago. Last week, The official Google AdSense blog has posted another advisory about the use of Traffic Exchange programs:

As many of you already know, our program policies strictly prohibit any means of artificially generating ad impressions or clicks, including third-party services such as paid-to-click, paid-to-surf, auto-surf, and click-exchange programs. These programs offer incentives for users to view web pages or click on ads, resulting in activity that is harmful to our advertisers.

We occasionally receive questions from publishers interested in using traffic exchanges to bring traffic to their site. While these services may help advertise your site, we don’t recommend using them, as they may also result in similar invalid activity. We realize that you may have questions about a specific traffic service and whether it could potentially create invalid impressions or clicks. However, please understand that we’re unable to comment on any particular third-party service.

Although the Google AdSense Team does no directly comment on a specific 3rd-party programs, I’m assuming services like Blog Explosion, StumbleUpon, BlogMad and similar ones are flagged.

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April 20, 2007

Auction.ph launches AdAuction for local bloggers

A local online market service has just launched AdAuction, a self-serve affiliate marketing program specifically targeted to bloggers. I receive a couple of emails for several of my niche blogs about it today.

AdAuction is an innovative new system that allows you to earn money from your blog or website. Simply display our preformatted ads on your page and earn a commission for every successful transaction resulting from the ad on your page. Web Advertising can’t get any easier than this. All you need is a blog or website, an AdAuction account, a little time and patience and you’ll be on your way to earning easy cash! No minimum page view requirements. For additional details, you may visit http://ad.auction.ph

Simply put, AdAuction is your local version of Amazon Associates or Chitika. The only difference is that commissions are computed differently:

Auction.ph levies a commission fee from Sellers at Auction.ph for using the AdAuction system. Publishers (AdAuction Members) earn a percentage of that commission fee for every successful transaction that originates from their website. A transaction is considered successful when a Buyer (coming from the publisher’s site) clicks on an AdAuction ad, and confirms purchase of the item. Publishers are entitled to 60% of the commission fee. The current commission fee in effect is P10.00 per successful transaction. Commission fees may be adjusted at any time by Auction.ph.

If my understanding is correct, any items sold in the online marketplace (irrespective of their selling price) will only earn the referring Publisher/blogger a flat commission fee of Php10 (roughly ~$0.20). The site allow members to sell anything from simple clothing to a second hand car and you as the affiliate will earn the same amount whatever was successfully sold.

I’m not sure that will work in favor of the Publishers. I currently ran a couple of Amazon Associate referral ads on my blog and once I was able to refer a buyer who bought a digital camera thru my affiliate links. I got about $6.50 (~Php300+) commission for it. If I was able to refer the same sale at AdAuction, will I only earn Php10?

Huge difference. You be the judge.