I made 12 bucks!

So you may notice the google ads on the right. What caused me to lower myself to marketing?

A few months ago I created Kumbali.com for a lodge here in Lilongwe. They were disappointed that their shiny new website didn't turn up as the number one hit on google when someone typed in Malawi. They wanted me make their site appear first on google. I explained that google's rankings are very difficult to artificially manipulate, and that is why they are so successful - you can trust a google search. I told them they could pay to get listed on the advertising part of a google page, and they gave me the green light. I was very surprised at how easy this was. I said that I wanted to spend no more than $1 a day, and that our ad should display when people search for Malawi, Lilongwe, Lilongwe Hotels, and the like. Within a few minutes their ad was appearing, and three months later they are approaching 1000 hits from google ads - and getting quite a few bookings through the website. In other words, like the rest of google, it just worked.

So I decided I would add a google ad to Hacktivate. Again it was very simple, and I could make it look like the rest of my site. Today I checked, and for September I made almost $15! Apparently real people read my blog and they click on my ads and make me real money. Maybe I have been in Malawi too long, but $15 is the monthly salary for a lot of people here, and I feel like Google just gave me this for free. But it is not free, and that is the point. Something on my blog attracted a reader who was then attracted to another site via an ad, and that site was happy enough to pay me (and google) for getting the clicker there. It is a fine example of good marketing.

At its worst marketing is a blatant attempt to skew otherwise free markets towards inferior products. There are too many examples of this. But at its best, marketing makes connections from people to products that would otherwise be impossible because the market is too large or not really free. I think google is the latter and I am happy to be participating.

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