When the Iceland ash cloud issue broke on Sky News last week it’s possible that many affiliates, perhaps like the Government, didn’t anticipate that it’d last more than a day or two and probably wasn’t worth looking at. That perhaps could explain why a number of new sites offering affiliate links to ferry and train services didn’t billow up like a plume of volcanic ash.
However, there are one or two “entrepreneurial” people out there and domain names ashcloud.co.uk and volcanicash.co.uk are in place and active. The former site is more an information site with just a couple of affiliate links in amongst twitter, news feeds and updates. The latter site though is simply a one page effort with adsense, affiliate banners and a link to the siteowner’s main site.
Interestingly icelandvolcano.co.uk is still available whilst Eyjafjallajokull.co.uk (registered on 18th April) remains “parked” (or dormant in vulcanologist terms).
Perhaps these domains aren’t that useful? In my opinion visitors ending up at these sites would be looking for information and updates about the travel situation rather than using such sites for seeking out alternative travel arrangements. As is The BBC, Sky and the Met Office will always do a better job.
The “information visitor” versus “looking to buy” may also explain why there’s very little PPC activity on terms such as “volcanic ash” and “ash cloud”. Eurostar do have adverts with the headline “Ash Cloud Won’t Stop Us” running, but other travel companies haven’t joined them.
One company that has joined Eurostar on PPC are Street Shirts who are hoping that their “Ash Cloud” tshirts, such as I Survived the Ash Cloud will appeal to people searching Google for information.
Taking “advantage” of a situation, especially one which is fluid and that may be short lived, is a high risk strategy. It can also take up a lot of time, especially if you’re having to offer regular updates. It can become a distraction from your current activity.
For affiliates wanting to “take advantage” or “be entrepreneurial” it may be better to look at pushing alternative ways to travel such as train and ferry on existing sites. Alternatively (and assuming the volcano is going to be blowing ash for sometime to come) it might be prudent to look at developing sites that will run and be profitable beyond the current crisis (imgettingonnoplane.co.uk?).
Hopefully the situation eases soon and those people stuck waiting for flights home or away on holiday don’t have too much longer to wait.