Go, Do, Be.


12/15/2009  — 

Rubicon Project Ad Network Sloughs-off Small Publishers

Looks like my run with the Rubicon Project is about to end. They are starting to charge publishers a (laughable) $2000/month fee for using their network. I'd love to make more than $2k/mo over on NetScrap.com, but even with 100k impressions a month it's nowhere near that volume. This likely spells the end of my relationship with Rubicon.

Rubicon's service had a great promise: automatic optimization for the ad campaigns that run on your site. They claimed that they'd be able to run the highest-value ads through this optimization. Their system seemed to perform well for a few months, but like all networks the effective CPM eventually started to peter-out.

My guess is that Rubicon's continual focus on premium (read: large-volume) publishers is really driving this. Do they need to aim high-value ads toward their premium properties? Are the operational costs really catching up with their network? The ads on NetScrap.com make a little dough to cover part of the hosting costs. The returns haven't been that great though, maybe I'll just kill them all.

Rubicon Folks-

I am disappointed to read about these changes in your terms. Your decision to scrape small publishers off of your network by charging fees seems to be directly opposed to your 'power to the publisher' tagline. I hope the premium publishers you pursue will accept and understand this apparent disconnect between your claims and your actions.


Here's the notification from the Rubicon team:

Dear Customer,

It's been a growth-filled year at the Rubicon Project. We've expanded internationally to several continents, continued enhancing our technology and support offerings and welcomed hundreds of new customers to our developing global family.

Over a year ago, we narrowed our focus to concentrate on the premium publisher segment of the market -- tailoring our products, services and level of support to meet their needs. At that time we ceased taking on new sites that didn't meet minimum impression and managed revenue thresholds, but allowed existing small to mid-sized publisher customers to remain using the platform and services.

Despite great strides in developing and applying patent-pending technologies to the management of display inventory, due to the nature of the industry we operate in, there are a number of key elements that still require considerable amount of staff and resources. Primary among those are the development of new ad network relationships, applying resources to collect and consolidate stats from disparate ad networks, billing, responding to and resolving publisher inquires and managing a high level of overall ad quality. As we always strive to give the best to everyone we work with, we've continued to service small and mid-sized publishers, some running 25,000-100,000 impressions a month just as we do premium publishers running 50 million a month. The costs have really begun to add up and we've come to the realization that this simply isn't scalable given our existing basic fee structure.

Beginning January 1st, in order for publishers to continue to be able to access our technology platform and associated support services, we are instituting a requirement for a monthly minimum fee of $2,000, below which a publisher will have to make up the difference. By means of example, if your fee on managed revenue ends up being only $500 a month, you will be responsible for the additional $1,500 to make up for the costs associated with managing and supporting our, and your, business. We recognize these minimums are not going to work for all publishers. If you choose to pass on the new monthly minimum and close your account, we hope you will continue to keep us in mind as your traffic grows and it makes more economical sense for you.

One thing to consider when making your decision on how you would like to proceed, is how your traffic is currently allocated and whether you are serving all your Ad Networks through the Rubicon platform vs. outside of it. This additional traffic might help you meet the minimum monthly fee, while at the same time providing additional lift for your overall inventory.

If you would like to continue to access the Rubicon Project's technology and services, please let us know no later than December 18th by responding to globalsupport@rubiconproject.com Best Regards, the Rubicon Project

This email was sent to: *@netscrap.com*

This email was sent by: the Rubicon Project 1925 S Bundy Drive Los Angeles, CA 90025 USA

04/05/2009  — 

Menu and Wines from Dinner at Cyrus

Amy and I headed north to Healdsburg for an amazing day topped-off with an amazing dinner at Cyrus, one of the best restaurants in the bay area (possibly the country).

I'm reverse-blogging this so please bear with the memories. I recall the service to be top-notch. I witnessed a table of 6 (maybe 8?) served silently, simultaneously, with such grace and precision. Our service was impeccable: every question about preparation or ingredients was met with expert, but friendly answers. I witnessed negotiations between an obviously French patron and a server over the cheese course. The server knew everything about every cheese: climate, preparation, treatments... the patron (and I) was impressed.

Our tasting menu worked like this:

  1. Canapés
  2. California Select Caviar with Accompaniments.
  3. Amuse Bouche
  4. Thai Marinated Lobster with Avocado, Mango, and Hearts of Palm.
    Wine: Kerner, Abbazia di Novacella, Alto Adige, Italy 2007
  5. Me: Foie Gras "Torchon" with Tamarind and Dates.
    Wine: Riesling Kabinett, Dr. Crusius "Traiser Rotenfels" Nahe, Germany 2007
    Amy had the Gnocchi with Morels and Snap Peas
  6. Seared Scallop with Chorizo and Clams.
    Wine: Manzanilla Pasada Sherry, Hidalgo "Pastrana" Jerez, Spain.
  7. Duck Breast with Bok Choy and Asparagus, Sesame- Shao Xing Sauce.
    Wine: Pinot Noir, Skewis "Lingenfelder" Russian River Valley 2005.
  8. Amy: Wagyu Beef with Burdock and Shiso, Oxtail Umeshu Consommé.
    Me: Lamb roulade with Mélange of Spring Vegetables.
    Wine: "Pian del Ciampolo", Montevertine, Tuscany, Italy, 2005
  9. Artisanal and Farmhouse Cheeses presented Tableside.
    Wine: Savigny-les-Beaune, Camus-Bruchon "Vielles Vignes", Burgundy, France 2006
  10. Verjus Sorbet, Blood Orange Riesling Soup with Crystalized Picholine Olives.
    Wine: Brachetto D'Acqui, Marenco, Piedmont, Italy 2006
  11. Tiramisu, Cappuccino "Spoon", Caramelized Fennel and Espresso Gelato
    Wine: Bual Madeira, Henriques & Henriques "15 Year Old", Portugal
    Amy: Carmelized Walnut Carrot Cake with Yuzu -- Carrot Sorbet
  12. Mignardises

Hits: Cocktails were really good: the bar uses seasonal ingredients to create new drinks. The Amuse Bouche was a play on all senses of taste. The Scallop was amazing: the scallop/chorizo/manzanilla pairing was so perfect. The Foie Gras "Torchon" was a play on indian flavors: I think they served it with papadam and maybe even a puri -- lots of fun.

Misses: Very little. The espresso in the desert was too bitter. The Blood Orange Riesling Soup was a little lame. Nothing much else to complain about.

If we win the lottery we'll get back there sometime soon. Untill then, the memories will keep us rolling along.

12/03/2008  — 

Blert, A Zeen

One of the things I like about watching facebook and twitter statuses is how conversations seem to occasionally overlap. At the risk of looking like a chat-and-tell blogger, I offer you another brief chat transcript. In this case, a friend told me that his last blert shirt recently reached the threadbare stage.

blert, a zeen

A few friends from way back decided to get a big batch of these shirts to promote a really cool magazine they were planning. The shirts proudly declare, "blert a zeen." The magazine didn't stick around too long, the band resurrected the name for a while, but these shirts have made their way all around my circle of friends and family.

I passed kudos back to the graphic designer who designed the shirt and was half of the genius duo behind this early incarnation of the blert lifestyle.

    CG: welp, I just wanted to pass that tidbit along in case your ears were ringing a few days back. about the blert shirts.

    JM: i don't think they were. do you need the artwork?

    CG: you still have anything from that? Maybe this is a job for cafepress...

    JM: (i still am not entirely sure what this thread is about.) lol. i doubt i've ever thrown a design away in my life

    CG: well that's your design, right? yeah.

    JM: yeah. i'm a designer, you never throw away artwork

    CG: So it's a classic by now... 15 years on or something? still relevant. people are still talking about it.

    JM: it's sacrilege, you just get a bigger hard drive and pray the formats are backward compatible

    CG: lol. well if you dig something up, ping me, transfer and I'll put it up on cafepress.

    JM: it's a classic design. actually, it doesn't feel dated. except a zeen is kinda an irrelevant concept now.

    CG: totally. blert, a blog

    JM: lol

    CG: blert a tweet. A tumblertog

    JM: i'll have to wear one of my shirts tomorrow. just cause now

    CG: I'll do it too and snap a pic.

10/09/2008  — 

New Crop of Food TV

A chilly sunrise greeted us this morning, it's the second of the Bay Area's three winters. Like the first one in August, this is a false winter (we'll likely have a brief summer in early November when the Santa Anna winds stoke the wildfires (and the surfers)). Still, the chill reminded me of impending bumpercrop of pomegranates, figs, and of course the harvest up in the valley,

This particular false winter also makes me think about the new crop of TV programming, specifically food shows popping up with the new season.

'Spain... On The Road Again' is Spanish road trip that has more in common with soap operas on daytime TV than Kerouac. Just look at this synopsis:

"Mark's moods swings and insatiable appetite have the road trippers stopping often as they head north to Galicia. While in Ribera del Duero wine country, Mario grills milk-fed lamb in a vineyard. While staying at a traditional county inn, Mario's competitive edge emerges and he and Gwyneth race Mark and Claudia on the Camino de Santiago, a historic pilgrimage route. Back at the inn, Mario and Gwyneth cook dinner while waiting for Mark and Claudia to get back."

What works:

  • The Bittman/Batali combination is always fun.
  • Claudia Basoles: she's lovely.
  • The foods: they get to eat off the beaten trail.
  • Batali reminiscing about his childhood experiences in Europe.

What doesn't work:

  • The gang is going to seem way out of touch if they don't switch to motoring around Spain in hybrids. They swing a little too far down the bonvivant scale at times.
  • The soundtrack: an ibericized-version of Willie Nelson's on the road again. Again and again.
  • GP's food conflicts: won't eat meat but is still hungry all the time.

I like Alton Brown's Feasting On Waves for a bunch of reasons. Back in my youth I had my own Caribbean experience, so this show brings back a few memories.

What works:

  • Alton's always good for some foodie fun.
  • getting way off the beaten trail and connecting with people
  • The way the show seems like one giant boondoggle. I imagine the pitch: "yeah, we're taking the whole crew down to the Caribbean to tool around on a few sailboats. We'll film the whole thing and you can edit it together for a few episodes. Oh yeah -- you'll need to pay us too."

What doesn't:

  • The hand held camera-action is a little nuts. Are they trying to share the seasickness experience?
  • They kinda seem rushed. Relax mon! Take it Island speed.
  • The relentless soundtrack just won't, well... relent.
  • The color and haze of the picture. Did the salt ruin all the gear? Why does it seem like we're watching this through gauze?
  • Lay off the lat-lon stuff, ok? Seems Alton's penchant for gadgetry extends to the handheld GPS too.

Let's see if I can borrow a scene (sorry about the autoPlay, can't seem to stop it)

Gourmet's Diary Of A Foodie has turned out to be my favorite show of the moment. Another Zero Point Zero production. ZPZ produces Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations show. D.O.A.F. uses some of the same 'local experts' that have helped No Reservations get the inside scoop on foodie goodies.

What works:

  • Awesome variety
  • good in-depth kitchen time with some amazing chefs (Grant Achatz, José Andrés, many others)
  • great insiders! Gourmet's connections have really opened up some interesting doors in these episodes
  • Local connections: Plenty of action in the bay area, plus I've come across s(e.g. Saw an episode about Jersey Cow butter that looked so fresh and good, then came across fresh jersey cow butter at the ferry plaza farmers market).
  • The demonstration sections: they bring technique and flavor into reach.

What doesn't work:

  • those disembodied hands wailing on a computer keyboard to into each episode are a little freaky.
  • Need more episodes! Looks like there are only two seasons.

Maybe I can borrow an episode for a bit:

I'm missing shows too of course. I haven't seen this Bourdain thing called At The Table. Yet. We're probably due for another excellent Top Chef series any month. Can't wait to read along with the amuse-biatch blog (often as entertaining as the episodes it covers). Of course, there hasn't been another installment of Daniel Boulud's After Hours (one of my all-time favs.). Chef Boulud, please return soon, we miss you!

Edit: Uh, so I stupidly forgot to mention on more great show that's started a new season. Stupid because this is probably my motivation for putting this post together.

Check, Please! Bay Area dished out a few new episodes to start its thrid season. This locally produced show's winning combination involves inviting 3 people to introduce and compare their favorite restaurants. The discussion and food porn are usually a lot of fun.

What works:

  • Love the local focus. We watch and cheer for our favorite restaurants, debate where we'd take people, and add new destinations to our list.
  • Leslie Sabracco keeps the conversation lite and fun. She's an expert with wines and drinks and usually brings an interesting factoid about a restaurant's wine list.
  • The series has a bunch of good stuff online. In addition to each broadcast there are blogs, restaurant profiles, flickr streams, embeddable videos.
  • Broadcasts are in true HD.

What doesn't work:

  • The DVR ends up recording everything because they never signal when an episode is new.

Hey look, they've moved all their videos onto YouTube.

I suspect someone will export this formula to the other restaurant-rich markets.

What restaurant would you bring to the show?

08/21/2008  — 

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

October 15th, 2008: Blog Action Day, a great idea. Here's the deal: motivate a bunch of bloggists to write about a social issue (this year, poverty). Then, here's the kicker -- donate the earnings from that day's ad revenues.

The Greacen Zone falls on one extreme (ly small) end of the audience size spectrum. But since all of netscrap.com is involved in this ad-revenue experiment, I'll donate all of the netscrap platform's revenue. Might even beat the minimum for a microloan on Kiva

What will I write about? At this point: no idear. Really. I've lived in cities. I've taken enough human geography, heard stories from peace corps veterans, and travelled enough to know at least a little about the average state of humanity in the world. But poverty -- specifically. Dunno.

I'll come up with something good.

08/20/2008  — 

Digsby will change the way you communicate online

06/27/2008  — 

Post 1000

01/25/2008  — 

js-kit comments on greacen.com

01/09/2008  — 

Gofish, spilled...

09/23/2007  — 

Long time no blog.