Technology transcends products, and encompasses many facets and form factors. For example, I've recently been admiring the Swiss Army Knife which offers a built in USB drive as one of its "blades." For those of us old enough to remember 8" floppy disk drives, this tiny device is a miracle of information storage technology, and is praised as such in various media targeting "the tech crowd."
While no one would argue that this tool (or toy, depending upon your perspective) is an example of "technology" – what is more important, the tool, or its uses? Rather than technology for technology's sake, the uses that such a device may be put to is what gives it importance and value. For instance, beyond being a handy key chain with a variety of useful tools attached, this particular pocketknife can carry a digital portfolio of your latest designs, content and more.
How handy would such a tool be when working a trade show floor and the opportunity to showcase your latest wares to a prospective client suddenly arose? The ubiquity of USB ports makes it as simple as finding the nearest laptop and plugging your pocket knife into it! After the sales pitch, you can seal the deal and then celebrate by opening up a couple of beers with the same device you stored your presentation on...
That was a very simple example of the concept that I'm trying to impart. Let me take it a bit further:
Leveraging The Currency Market
I keep seeing overseas operators posting on various message boards that "weakness in the dollar" is killing their income, because once their U.S.-based affiliate payout checks are converted from dollars to their local currency, disparity in the exchange rate takes a toll. Instead of bemoaning their losses, why don't these operators turn this "problem" into a competitive advantage?
Through the use of technology, currency markets may easily be monitored in real time. A custom-programmed artificial intelligence engine can process exchange rate information, and then based upon the favorability of this rate, automatically vary the placement and bid amounts of geo-targeted pay per click (PPC) advertising campaigns – campaigns which will feed the most profitable programs based upon the exchange rate.
Since most webmasters operate on a limited budget, spending traffic budgets where and how they will do the most good is vital in order to maximize profitability. This can be taken several steps further than what your competitors are doing, simply by examining all of the issues.
As an example, let's look at a U.S.-based affiliate. This affiliate promotes two programs: U.S.-based GigaCash (which pays out in dollars) and Vienna-based Goodthinxx (which pays out in Euros). With all other elements (such as the number of referred sales and actual payout per referred customer) being equal, the actual cash amount that the affiliate will receive from each program will be different based upon the value of the dollar in comparison to the Euro. Knowing if this difference favors the dollar or not allows the affiliate to increase the amount of traffic to one sponsor or another. The effective application of this process results in "found money" being added to your bottom line with no additional traffic or marketing overhead required.
If this traffic is generated via PPC buys on regional search engines and directories that serve an audience composed of users of a targeted currency, then these buys can be automated to execute in response to fluctuations in the exchange rate. While professionally translated landing pages and other issues of multi-culturalism all need to be taken into account, they are beyond the scope of this article which is limited to dealing with the financial possibilities of running an automated Internet "cash machine."
Taking this process even further, conversion and payout information can be scraped from sponsors and added into the mix, allowing you to "weight" your buys more effectively. Now you can automatically target traffic buys based upon not only the payout currency, but upon which of the sponsors that payout in a given currency deliver the greatest return on your traffic investment.
It's important when doing this to base your calculations upon your own click counts, rather than relying upon the sponsor's reported figures, as this levels the playing field between individual sponsors – some of whom may report a "unique visitor" (your referral) based upon their hitting the first, second, or join page. We should only be concerned with the number of folks we refer, divided by the amount on the check that we receive – the rest is smoke and mirrors, and counting your own clicks cuts through the fog.
Technology enables the automation of this process, which is not really a business model as much as it is a business practice – a practice made easier through technology. There's no "gadgets" involved (although a good deal of script writing would be required), but the concept is an illustration of an application of technology that can directly, and positively affect your bottom line. Of course there's more to it than all of this, but I can't tell you everything...
In the final analysis, competing in today's market requires techniques and technologies well in advance of what was once needed to turn a profit. It is the innovative uses of these techniques and technologies, such as the practice outlined above, that will help you to succeed.