Are Volcanic Ash Affiliates Lying Dormant?

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.

3 Comments Are Volcanic Ash Affiliates Lying Dormant?

  1. David Fiske April 19, 2010 at 9:27 am

    The problem with promoting something like this is the fact that many people will be booking by phone or will just turn up in the hope of getting a ticket.

    In fact, I’ve heard that some ferry operators are insisting on phone bookings only making it more difficult to convert profitably.

    The advice on the TV has been a bit varied but not once have I heard ‘book on our website’ which is also not a good sign!

    I am surprised not to see more PPC ads. I thought there would be a few optimistic folk out there.

    I like the idea of the t-shirt as well – I imagine more are to follow. £27.99 for the one pictured is steep for a t-shirt though! I’m hoping this tweet will make it onto a t-shirt: ‘Dear Iceland, we said ‘send Cash’.’ (http://twitter.com/Cannovan/status/12225851582)

    Reply
  2. Antony April 19, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Very true. With my family having made a trip to ireland and having both flights cancelled Ive been making good use of the ferry sites and they have struggled to cope with the volume leading me to have to pick up the phone (and i really hate to do that!).

    If it goes on much longer Helicopter Charter might be a good term (assuming they can fly under) – not sure if there are any affiliate programs though

    Reply
  3. Richard April 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Hi. I’m the person behind AshCloud.co.uk – although I have some other affiliate sites out on the web, I’m mainly involved with generic domain names.

    I’m pleased you noticed that there were only a couple of affiliate links because I never thought of this “project” as an “entrepreneurial” enterprise. If I had managed to take off to Finland at the end of last week, I would have been one of those stuck unable to get back in – I noticed that there were no sites at the beginning of the weekend which had alternative travel links all in one place. I discovered that some people had registered targeted ashcloud domains and were only offering them for sale but, as a legitimate generic domain trader, I have big problems with that tactic. So, I created a purposefully very basic site with no design frills whatsoever. I didn’t want the site to be a money-making site at all. I had a one day Google ads campaign for the site just to spread the word and the site got picked up in the comments sections of a number of online newpaper editions and social networking sites. In the initial 24 hours, the site had 4,500 visitors from 138 countries. The affiliate hotel search box was clearly there as a way to try and break even for the Google ads (and possibly bandwidth) but was genuinely there to try and give any cash-strapped stranded travellers a chance to find a cheaper option – or the same hotel for less – the affiliate site often has hotel deals at least 30% lower than booking direct with the hotel. For a family stuck somewhere for three extra nights, they could easily save two or three hundred Euros knowing that such a site exists.

    I didn’t expect such a traffic surge and, even with it, I’m not at all surprised the site hasn’t broken even yet – and that’s fine because it was really done in the spirit of trying to help and, if I had been stuck in Finland, I would have been far more out of pocket. In addition, what with my interests in the web, it was quite an exciting project – to see a domain name never before registered get listed and indexed on the first page of bing and google search results etc. within 24 hours of registration. At one stage, there were over 90 visitors online at once. It was also interesting to see how the site started filtering on to social networking sites across the world and then, the following day and since, I noticed a large increase in direct navigation visitors returning multiple times – so, at least that stat has given me some evidence that the site must have at least been helping a few people.

    Best wishes, Richard

    Reply

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