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Old 09-19-2001, 09:17 AM   #1
roy7
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Default IP to country lookup software, advice?

Hi guys. I ran this by Steve_S, I wasn't sure if it was appropriate to bring up. He said it'd be okay. So here I am.

I've been doing software development for many years, but almost never tried to make money from the projects. I enjoy programming, coming up with new idea, improving on existing ideas, etc. It's just plain fun.

A bit of history. For my gaming site www.mpog.com we wanted to do some country based targeting of CPA deals. Some deals are only valid out side of the USA. Some are only valid to people in the USA. Also, I have friends who own huge sites with big overseas traffic. It seems like they should show ad tags from foreign networks (Hi Media, WebAds, Doubleclick Asia, etc) to users from the appropriate countries.

So I wanted to make this happen. I looked around and the only semi-affordable option was RealMapping, at $3K for the single country lowest end version. For all countries, it was $10K. I didn't have $10K. This drove me, eventually, to come up with a way to create my own database of IP addresses and how they relate to countries (with an acceptable level of accuracy). I did, and it works well.

The small startup I work for currently will be lowering it's expenses soon, so I'm considering selling the country software as a way to make some extra income. Or if it was popular enough, I could improve and support it as a full time job. That'd be a dream come true.

Why I'm posting here is to ask your advice on how I should charge for the software, or if I shouldn't even try. Quova's low end product is $125K. They bought out RealMapping, I assume because they were so much cheaper, RealMapping's low end product was raised to $30K last time I checked. I don't know the price for Digital Envoy's software. Those are the 3 main competitors. I can't possibly compete with Quova's $24M of funding, their marketing and service, etc etc. I can only compete on price. All of them, I believe, also have annual charges for database updates and the license, it isn't a one time sale.

So what I was thinking is something along these lines. A Lite version and Pro version. The Lite version could cost $99, for any small webmaster or business who could use the data. This version would probably include only the database and a program to look up IP addresses and get the country code back.

The Pro version would have multiple price points. Perhaps $199 for small sites, $399-$499 for sites/companies with more than $250K in annual revenue, and $699-$999 for sites/companies with more than $1M in annual revenue. Those sites with $250K or more in revenue could be required to buy Pro versions.

The Pro version could include the database, lookup program, my PHP extention to lookup countries within PHP (I've been using this for a while, works fine, you just make a countrydb_lookup() function call), an Apache module so every php/CGI/etc program can simply look at an enviroment variable such as HTTP_REMOTE_COUNTRY. I can provide patches for web analysis programs like webalizer or analog, so the country breakdown of traffic in those reports is far more accurate than using domain names, and no domain names are needed when logging. I could provide similar patches for other web servers or software, whatever people requested.

Full source for the lookup program and all patches would be provided, so people can use the data any way they want if they do some coding on their own. Could provide a tiny API for it. They still need to get database updates from me, however. If this would be free or a low annual charge, I'm not sure.

So that's my idea for a cool inexpensive product, how I got to this point, and why I'm thinking about selling it. I'd appreciate any and all advice about pricing, if there is any demand for this, etc etc. I need to decide what to do in the next week or two in terms of making a living. I've never done commercial software sales before. I'm a bit intimidated by the idea, but I know I could provide some cool stuff if I didn't get evicted while doing so.

Thanks!

-Jonathan

Last edited by roy7; 09-19-2001 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 09-19-2001, 10:00 AM   #2
Strider
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Sounds like a nice idea, I could see a lot of possible applications for this program, especially with CPA networks. I would suggest baseing your pricing on the number of impressions served rather than the yearly revenue of a company.
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Old 09-19-2001, 10:10 AM   #3
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My thought process was to charge more from the people able to pay more. As a small webmaster myself, I wanted to allow a lot of people to use the software... without going so far as making it freeware. I've gotta pay the bills somehow.

Some small sites make a lot of $, and some huge sites make very little. But perhaps charging on traffic makes more sense. I think the big boys charge by # of CPUs.

Thanks!

-Jonathan
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Old 09-19-2001, 10:28 AM   #4
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I get a good bit of my impressions from UK, Australia and Canada so I've thougt about trying to use something like this.

As for what I'd pay, that's a tough question. It really comes down to how much more could it make me. Most of the US based networks now seem to do their own geo targetting. At least Burst and FastClick do. I think they both run some campaigns that are US only and some that are not geo targetted.

So really, the only way this would make me more money is if I could join a UK based network and show their ads to UK visitors. From what I've seen however, UK networks aren't likely to accept a US based site.

As for rotating CPA ads based on the user's country, that's probably a good idea for some sites. I've found my return on CPA is so low that I'm almost better off not using them at all. At any rate I'm not likely to pay for country based targetting for my CPA ads.

Another approach would be to contact some of the companies that make banner rotators and see if they'd be interested integrating your database to provide geo targetting.
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Old 09-19-2001, 10:30 AM   #5
Marty Winston
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I'm pretty sure I can get this published.

Send me a copy of the personal edition (marty@newstips.com) and your contact info.

I may have an idea or two that can add significantly to your revenue prospects as well.

(If you're hesitant, Steve can share some info about my credentials).
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Old 09-19-2001, 11:46 AM   #6
roy7
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jnestor, other things you can do is store the country a user was from when filling out a form to join your newsletters or mailing lists, then perhaps selling ads by country. Or maybe you want to show search results from findwhat/ah-ha/etc for US users, but use foreign search engines for other countries.

I don't know. Be creative. At what price point can you simply not resist buying a copy just for fun? $30? $10? $1?

Marty I'll drop Steve a note. I can probably handle CC processing and so on, there wouldn't be a physical componant to go along with the software. Will contact you soon.

-Jonathan
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Old 09-19-2001, 11:51 AM   #7
Marty Winston
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Roy - I'm talking about getting you onto retail shelves (think CompUSA and Micro Center) and maybe into the AOL retail sales channel.

There are a few tricks you can do to be very appealing there, and I have two mechanisms (publishing from a house like Macmillan or box-on-the-shelf through Tri Synergy) to take you there.

You do the software, somebody else does the selling and collecting, and a third party does the manufacturing and so on.

After I get your info, I'll contact you privately about the what & how.
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Old 09-19-2001, 03:36 PM   #8
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It certainly becomes compelling in the $20-$30 range. More than that and I'd probably want to try before you buy somewhat. Perhaps you could do a single country. Like here are all the ip's from Australia. That way I could see how dificult it would be to integrate with my ad serving and test how acurate it is.

Outside the US the next largest countries are < 10% of my traffic, so I'd only have a couple hundred thousand impressions for a given country. Maybe 200K - 250K a month for Canada and UK and 150K for Australia. The unknown is how much more I could make geo targetting them rather than running my standard ads. Of course there's also what I'd be giving up. FastClick runs a UK only pop-under that pays $6+ CPM.
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Old 09-19-2001, 06:22 PM   #9
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The author of Adcycle was talking about adding a geo-targetting feature recently. The reason he hasn't done it yet is beacuse he doesn't have a reliable IP to country list. It's discussed in this thread. It might be worth contacting hime and seeing if he's interested in licensing it from you. I'd pay money for it.
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Old 09-19-2001, 09:08 PM   #10
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If the software allowed me to:-

Send traffic through the script and VERY RAPIDLY (i.e. without the visitor even noticing!) redirect visitors to multiple pages depending on which country they are browsing from, then I'd be willing to pay $49 for a copy.

I'd also be willing to pay up to an additional $50 i.e. $99 total for a copy that I can use across as many of my own domains as I like i.e. unlimited per-person license.

Perhaps this price-point can help you, even though it's just one opinion.

By the way, it would be good to integrate browser language lookup inside the script. I understand this can be done in PHP in just a few lines of code, but it would be good to have it all in one!

That way, the following example would be possible (of course this is just one of an almost infinite number of possible combinations)

EXAMPLE:
- One start page in French for people visiting from France and/or browsing with the French language as their main OS/browser language
- One start page in Spanish for people visiting from Spain and/or browsing with the Spanish language as their main OS/browser language
- One default page, in English

Another thought: if the script could be search-engine-spider-transparent it would add to its value i.e. if I could set up 10 doorway entry pages into my site and submit my site to search engines using just the root URL (www.DOMAIN.com) safe in the knowledge that if I submitted to a French SE it would index the French page, to a German SE it would index the German page this would be great!

If your sw could do all the above you have a real winner and a unique product that I foresee could have wide applications.

And while I won't go into *any detail at all*, I suspect the adult webmaster industry might just possibly be your best client...

Hope this helps!

Edwin
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Old 09-19-2001, 10:38 PM   #11
roy7
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paulj, thank you! I joined their forum and posted a reply.

Edwin, the lookups are lightning quick. Well okay, the cgi version has to run the C program but it's still fast. If you had the Apache or PHP native version it'd be almost instant to lookup. Never noticable by the end user.

Redirect to a page based on country... that's something you could do with SSI or print a Location: header to redirect them. ie:

Code:
<?
if (!$country)
{
  # See if user is from France
  if (countrydb_lookup(getenv("REMOTE_ADDR") == "FR"))
  {
    header("Location: http://mysite.com/index.php?country=FR");
  **
**

# Otherwise continue
?>
Or you could send them to "index_france.php" or whatever... of course being from France they still might want English so provide a link. Or you could do

Code:
if (countrydb_lookup($ip) == "FR")
{
  echo "Click here for French!";
** else if (countrydb_lookup($ip) == "RU") {
  echo "Click here for Russian!";
**
Of course, you'd have those linked and in those native languages as well, or whatever you wanted. (Example code in PHP.)

I'd probably sell unlimited per-person license with a few exceptions. Wouldn't want a web hosting company to provide it free to every site... but for your own personal sites, sure. I'm not in it for the money, I enjoy this stuff. Just want to make some $ if I can though, and more from huge profitable corps than small webmasters.

You could do the search engine thingy the same way perhaps, not sure. Assuming the IPs for each foreign spider were correctly detected from their respective countries, then yeah you should be able to do that.

In order to keep the database down to a reasonable size, BTW, I assume all IPs in the same Class C block are from the same country. So I actually look up A.B.C.*, not the full IP. This lets me have a far smaller database, without giving up much if any accuracy.

No idea why adult companies would need this stuff, unless they want to ban showing content to counties where it is illegal, but I don't have much clue about it. But if they want to buy, more power to them!

-Jonathan
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Old 09-20-2001, 01:34 AM   #12
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Your best bet might be to sell a copy that is free for e.g. 15 days but that people have to register after that. For instance, while I probably would buy a copy "sight unseen" (because I can see some real uses for the script) I'd be much happier setting it up and testing it before paying.

Edwin
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Old 09-20-2001, 05:53 AM   #13
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Hi,

this is what we do to get the country of the visitor:

1. We find out the language of the browser:
if ($HTTP_ACCEPT_LANGUAGE == "nl") { **

This works for most countries, like the Netherlands, Germany etc, but not for every country (eg Spain can also be Brazil) and for visitors with an English browser.

2. After trying to find out the country by the browser language, we do a host name lookup (gethostbyaddr($REMOTE_ADDR))

This also returns a lot of countries, eg the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain etc but not US, because in all the countries on the world people surf the net using providers with .COM, NET and ORG. Only US is a visitor from the US...

3. We are currently working on looking at the local time of the visitor. Combining the Spanish browser with the local time, we should be able to determine if the visitor is from Spain or South America...

The methods described above are easy to implement and free. We also looked at Quova's database but found it way to expensive...

If someone has more ideas how to find out the country, I'd be happy to hear about it!

Barry

Last edited by AffiliatesNL; 09-20-2001 at 05:53 AM.
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Old 09-20-2001, 08:40 AM   #14
roy7
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4. Buy a copy of my database instead of Quovas, saving you over $100K and giving you the same sort of info?

Edwin, what operating system, web server, etc do you use? Maybe I'll send you a copy for fun. You can be my beta tester.

-Jonathan
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Old 09-20-2001, 08:45 AM   #15
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Roy -

I don't want to put too fine an edge on this, but I do want to state it clearly.

Avoid distribution of this in any form until you've had a chance to determine a full product commercialization strategy.

This product has the potential for a really nice 7-figure-income year for you, but saying too much or testing too much right now can thwart that.
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