Category Archives: Amazon

S3/EC2 – Why cloud computing is going to be huge!


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I’ve been a long time fan of the S3 service from Amazon, and when EC2 came on board I was equally addicted.

For those of you not in the know let me give you a quick lesson on these 2 amazing amazon web services.

S3 (SSS = Simple storage service)  put simply is a private space on the Internet where you can store stuff in. You can share this stuff to the outside world if you wanted to. What stuff can you store in there? many forms of media such as images, documents, videos etc. It is extremely cheap and very scalable (from 1 Mb to several terabytes of data)

Amazon’s definition:

Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.

EC2 (Elastic compute cloud) picks up where S3 ends. S3 is storage, EC2 is computing power. The way I think of it is having your very own computer sitting smack bang in the Internet doing your bidding, like a virtual image of your computer configured the way you want doing the things you want it to do.

Amazon’s definition:

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides re-sizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.

Just as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) enables storage in the cloud, Amazon EC2 enables “compute” in the cloud. Amazon EC2′s simple web service interface allows you to obtain and configure capacity with minimal friction. It provides you with complete control of your computing resources and lets you run on Amazon’s proven computing environment. Amazon EC2 reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing you to quickly scale capacity, both up and down, as your computing requirements change. Amazon EC2 changes the economics of computing by allowing you to pay only for capacity that you actually use.

So basically with S3 and EC2 you can have your very own data-center on the Internet, the space to process stuff in and the computing power to do the processing. You can have terabytes of space and several hundred computers working for you!! AMAZING!

I have always wanted to build my own thumbnail generator, pass into a webservice a URL and have that generate thumbnails for you (much like the service already offered by amazons alexa thumbnails service). I have written the actual .net windows service to do it, I have a webservice exposed that can pass requests into this service all I need now is a server to start processing requests and a storage area to store the generated images.  Amazons S3 and EC2 services are perfect for this :)  I will attempt to do this over the next couple of weeks, just as a proof of concept that it can be done :)

So why did I post about this? Because of an article I read from New York Times talking about how they used the S3/EC2 services to achieve an amazing task. You must read this article, it will open your eyes to what is possible with these cheap services. Read the article and you’ll understand what I mean!

I also want to mention that one of the interesting observations I’ve made from reading this article, and it’s to do with the whole open-source vs licensed software debate, is that if I wanted to create a EC2 server built with a virtual of windows then I couldn’t scale it up to 100 virtual’s without forking out license fees. Now if I had an open-source OS like Linux then scaling the EC2 virtual’s to 100 servers is dirt cheap, in fact it’s a steal! Now this is a huge selling point for open-source!

The NYTimes article is here: Self-service, Prorated Super Computing Fun!

If you have time please leave comments, I’d like to hear your thoughts about this!

Experiment using ADWORDS/AMAZON


Hello people,

Ive just gotten back from holidays but prior to leaving on them (a month ago) i began my first experiment using Adwords and Amazon!

Ive just switched it off (disabled my google adwords campaigns) and i dont think ill turn it on again so im happy to share every piece of information regarding the results of this experiment!

 

AFFILIATE PRODUCTS:

Sell Amazon DVD’s
1) Laguna Beach
2) Arrested Development Sitcom
3) Futurama DVD’s
4) Simpson DVD’s
5) Scrubs DVD’s

GOOGLE ADWORDS SETUP:
campaign 1 : Laguna Beach Reality Series
campaign 2 : Arrested Development Sitcom
campaign 3 : Futurama Series
campaign 4 : Simpson Series
campaign 5 : Scrubs Series

PART 1: Finding my keywords

I set the budget to $100/day for each campaign (don’t be afraid to set this high, check out my strategy later for why i do this)
I started with over 30 keywords per campaign (not targeted at all).
eg. Arrested Develpment, Arrested Dev, Arrested Development DVDs etc etc

For each keyword i needed to find the minimum CPC:
1) I set the Max CPC very low at the begining eg. 0.06cents
2) Each hour i would check if i was getting clicks/impressions if not i would slowly increase it by a couple of cents eg. 6c –> 11c–> 14c
3) When i got to a point where i was getting good clicks and a nice ranking i would stop there. It would take me between 1 -4 days to get to that point.
[earlier i set my budget to $100/day- i always knew it would never get this high because my strategy is to always bid for keywords at a rediculously low price then slowly work up, this way you always get the cheapest price]

“Lagunga Beach” : max CPC 41cents (took me 3 days to get to this) – some advertisers were paying upwards of 1.40CPC whilst i was getting great clicks for my 0.41cpc.(start low work up )
“Arrested Development” : max CPC 54cents (took me 1week to get here)
“scrubs” : max CPC 25cents (took me 2 days to get here)
etc etc.

Whilst working out my CPC’s i would work out which keywords were working and ones that wern’t. In the end i had campaings with about 3-5 keywords each. Don’t be afraid to remove keywords!!!!

My most profitable campaign was Laguna Beach and it had only 1 keyword in the end “Laguna Beach”

PART 2: Text Adverts

I started with a very big list of keywords and dwindled them down to specific working keywords. My adverts on the other hand were all very generic extremly targeted ones based on this template

Get XXXXXX on DVD
If your a fan of the series you
need to get the extended DVD
http://xxxx.xxxx.xxx/xxxxxxxx

PART 3: Landing pages for the adverts

I made a special fan site for the dvds and made special landing pages for each campaign. They were very targeted pages!

This is the landing page for laguna beach the best selling of the products

PART 4: Endurance

This is definetely the hardest part of the whole process. Lasting the distance. Basically you have to watch as your money runs out, as you get the clicks and don’t know if your making the sales.

All up i endured 2weeks of solid advertising (totalling about AUS$1500 of advertising)

campaign 1 : Laguna Beach Reality Series : $465 in advertising
campaign 2 : Arrested Development Sitcom : $165 in advertising
campaign 3 : Futurama Series : $233 in advertising
campaign 4 : Simpson Series : $344 in advertising
campaign 5 : Scrubs Series :$245 in advertising

PART 5: AMAZON SALES

Laguna Beach Season 1 : 54
Simpsons Season 1 : 4
Simpsons Season 2 : 1
Simpsons Season 3 : 6
Simpsons Season 4 : 2
Simpsons Season 5 : 7
Simpsons Season 6 : 12
Simpsons Season 7 : 28
Scrubs Season 1 : 4
Scrubs Season 2 : 19
Arrested Development : 21
Futurama : NONE !!!

 

CONCLUSION:
With amazon we only get a 5-10% commission structure which is really @@#$
After i work out how much that translates to ill update people with the profits/losses.

In a nut shell i believe i made a nice profit but untill i actually calculate it i have no idea! Give me a weeke to get back into the groove of things!

Amazon technically performed badly, it took ages to load and sometimes the product wouldnt load at all (showing the standard amazon advert in place of the actual product).

Similary when i wanted to check my stats in the associates area the site was extremely slow to load up and sometimes died on me.

Similarly the reports are pretty crap. I dont think ill use amazon again!

From what people say Commision Junction sounds pretty good. I might try them out next time (maybe next week)!

If you have time check out my current experiment “beatifying the web”