Goodbye Surfbar Timers

There has been debate about whether or not surfbar timers do anything. For years the debate has gone on. It used to be 30 seconds was the standard. Now down to 5. Now down to 0?

That’s right, in a historic move Traffic Fugitive has gone to a 0 second timer. Or more accurately, has no timer now. You can surf as fast or as slow as you want. I’m intruiged!

So what are your thoughts? Personally, I surf the same as if it were 5 seconds. Because I wait till the page is loaded, scan it, and decide if I’m going to do something or move on.

I know Jon is raving, he’s yelling that is brilliant in the skype call right now.. Go try surfing at Traffic Fugitive right now!

UPDATE: I did testing back in 2009. There was a large outcry that timers going from 20 seconds down to 8 seconds or lower. The results? People stayed at the site 30 or more seconds despite having an 8 second timer. It seems that when real people are surfing, they either made the decision to pay attention or not.

65 thoughts on “Goodbye Surfbar Timers

  1. Love it. Love it. Love it.

    Been wanting to do this for quite some time and I’m applaud Jeff for trying it out.

    Regardless of whether or not it sticks, he took a RISK!

    THAT is the reason I love this decision too!

  2. It certainly is an interesting idea. As I’ve been observing for a long time, unless the surf timer is at least 8-10 seconds, it might as well be zero, since people tab surf. And if it’s much longer than that, people don’t want to surf your site at all.

    But that’s the surfer perspective. How people will see it AS ADVERTISERS is the question. AS ADVERTISERS, their guts may be telling them that it’s a bad deal, even though their brains should be telling them “the person is only seeing my site for as long as it takes to click whether there’s a timer or not.”

    1. Yeah, as an advertiser I’m not sure yet. It’s possible it could have no affect on results, and just increase the delivery rate. But it could reduce results. In the end, someone still has to have my page open to click that button to go next.. And it has to be human ;-)

  3. I Like the idea, and i agree with you when it come to surfing my average time is around the 6 sec mark, and by the time i get to the next TE page it’s time to click the image, but i can see how a surfer can rack up the credits by just surfing his TE alone, (he might be on to something here)but time will tell!

      1. Well, let’s see:

        People put stuff on StumbleUpon because they find it interesting. People surf StumbleUpon to see interesting new stuff.

        People put stuff on other TEs to promote/sell it. People surf other TEs to earn credits to promote/sell their own stuff.

        The person who puts something on StumbleUpon isn’t really that worried about how many eyeballs it catches, or for how long, or how many times.

        The person who puts something on a regular TE is very worried about all three of those things.

        That doesn’t mean that “no surf timer” can’t or couldn’t work, but StumbleUpon is probably not the proof that in can.

        1. So maybe, we need to change the culture in the T.E.’s…..Reward and applaud innovation.

          But alas, we don’t. We stick with 15 year old ‘technology’ and then slam people for trying new things….

          LOL It’s funny.

  4. I just surfed about 20 or so pages there. I can click on the icons faster than any splash page loads. So this tells me conversions will drop like a rock. Sure surfers will love it. And of course it will burn credits like lightning but
    as an advertiser, I can’t see any good to come from this. At least give it 5-6 seconds so a page can load and have a chance of it being seen.

  5. It may be the death of Traffic Exchanges. How many people use Autosurf? This could equate to the same type of advertising. No one seeing your adverts.

    I think as an advertiser it comes off as the same thing as an autosurf program. No one even seeing the first line of text, to catch someones attention. For the advertiser, is the real reason to just get enormous amounts of credits? (and I know some TE user think that, and magic happens) Or for someone to actually see the page. And yes I understand most of the advertiser do not understand marketing that well in the beginning. And all they can think about is racking up those credits. If no one views your page, well you get the point.

    As an advertiser using TEs from the very start (first TE) when you had to surf 16 pages to get one view (30 second timer) And signups and purchases would come in very day. I personally would see no value in the TE industry with no timer. I think at that point some smart nerd out there would figure out something to take traffic in a new format. Don’t know what that would be though.

    As a TE owner, I could see the point. Hits go out fast, sell more advertising. But sooner or later if no one views you page. Or 99 percent of the hits you have are never viewed. People will figure in time the true value of their advertising dollar. Most people are smart enough to figure this out.

    And yes, I tried autosurf, dummy me. Took me about 2 weeks to figure out they had no value. End of that.

    Please comment back if you would.

    Richard Faller

    1. BTW: 3 of the largest TEs out there, one with over 500,000 members still have timers of 15 and 20 seconds. And one with over 1,000 surfers on at any given time of the day. Just saying.

        1. Yes Tim that is right. And sometimes I question there numbers. Although my conversion is good. There is also 2 others use a 15 second timer. I think the main thing a timer does is to catch someones eye or ear enough to slow done and look at the page. Be it 6 seconds or 20 seconds. The page needs to load.

          1. That is an interesting point with easyhits4u I sent them a support ticket years ago when it was just a 30 sec timer. I asked them hey everybody else has a 15 timer or less why don’t you guys go to 15 secs for free members?
            They wrote me back “NEVER HAPPEN”

    2. I think it’s too early to tell either way. Nobody has tested the before and after here, and some are already calling it a scam and deleting their accounts.

      It could be that this has disasterous results. And guess what, Jeff can figure that out and put it back. But it could be that results stay the same but traffic delivery goes up. If you as an advertiser getting the same results, but at a faster rate, that would be good.

      So I think people need to be careful how attached to either side they are. Nobody really knows. And I for one think it’s great when an owner is willing to take a chance to see if it’ll work or not.

  6. Personally I say well done for trying something different for sticking
    But as an advertiser I will not buy credits there to me that would just be a waste of money to me I might as well buy a load of PTC hits
    And I certainly would not waste my time clicking mindlessly to rack up credits for others to do the same, I might as well have an auto surf site open and not even look at it till it is time to close the window

      1. Yes for what you pay for PTC hits, and they can be geo targeted, which for one program I need. the results are decent. I use hit counter urls within my splash/squeeze pages designed for PTCs. And I do get clicks from PTCs on my pages.

  7. As an advertiser I no longer pay for ads on TE’s why ? because the market is limited and the programs/ ideas/ concepts being promoted are either tired or over saturated.
    Why is the market limited? It’s become inward looking – to make money on TE’s you need to be promoting TE’s and other TE related programs.
    Why won’t it attract a larger committed advertising audience? Because the concept and technology is 15 years old as Jon says.
    Autosurfs don’t work. But Stumbleupon does. If Traffic Fugitive can attract a new audience other than the traditional TE clicker then Hooray! Traffic Exchanges have a whole new lease of life.
    Let’s be clear most programs being advertised on TE’s are junk.
    Sorry that’s the truth – the surf timer could run for a minute and I wouldn’t bother reading the page.
    Right now I’m thinking OK Traffic Fugitive – no timer – if I can make my content interesting and original I have a new audience. I could for example, turn TE mentality on its head and do away with a splash page and promote original content from my blog. 1 genuine reader in say 100 is more value than 1 opt in in 200-300 which is better than teh average in TE land.
    Of course, by doing that I run the risk of being penalized by Google for bounce rate, but Google penalizes me for typing anyway :-)
    This is new – its exciting and it may attract people who are not attracted to the click for credits mentality.
    Let’s be frank if you put a program that I’ve seen 100 times before on a TE I DON’T WANT TO SEE IT.
    It’s time to free the mind, take a risk and embrace something new.
    I for one, will try Traffic Fugitive today. I don’t expect masive results but I want to see the possibilities. No other TE has done that for me since the early days of Sweeva

  8. I was on Traffic Fugitive shortly after the no timer was set. I thought it was interesting and definitely different.

    I’ve have read all the comments here so far, and like with anything there are pros and cons. I think the only thing I can add is how often does a surfer surf one TE at a time? For myself, I rarely do so. Also, I look out for other promotions besides other TE promotions.. Personally I wish there were more non-TE promotions to look at.

    In general, timer or not I think it still depends on the right promotion and how it is presented.

    In any event, I am looking forward to see what kind of results other surfers are getting.

  9. OK so I did as promised – I took the time to surf 100 sites (113 actually) and here is what I found from a surfing perspective.
    As expected 95% of what I looked at held no interest for me. I was able to eave them immediately.
    Of the rest, I stopped and read a unique page from Randy Mason which caught my eye and I spent maybe 3 – 4 minutes checking it out.
    Several splash pages demanded my attention and caused me to click through to other offers.
    To be fair, I gave sites a reasonable time to load.
    Assuming my actions to be reasonably typical of the audience a presumed advertiser wants to reach (I doubt if anybody really wants to attract the click for reward only viewer) Traffic Fugitive represents a real opportunity for the advertiser who is prepared to be different, prepared to be bold and prepared to take risks.
    I sincerely hope that there are enough of these people to make traffic Fugitive a winner
    BTW – I also listed my blog directly at Traffic Fugitive – again I don;t expect great results but I will be interested to see if running against the grain and conventional wisdom produces any reaction

  10. I disagree with a no-timer option. From an advertiser’s point of view with a timer running we still have a chance of converting. Take that timer away and the promoting effort goes to waste. I would NOT even consider promoting in a TE with auto-surf, it’s pointless. I understand the concept of clicking on the security icons, still, who is going to look at the page if there’s no wait? Forget it. Internet connection is pretty fast to rely on “waiting to load the page”. It’s important for the page to load quick and the prospect to look at the page for at least for 3 seconds, other than that, don’t even try it. Traffic Fugitive is innovative? I don’t think so. I’m a fan of TE’s, I run one. But I think we need to make improvements in different ways. Cheers :)

    1. Dilmar,

      With the prevalence of tab surfing, it’s smart to assume that for all practical purposes you already have a “zero timer.” The surfer clicks, goes to the next tab … by the time he works his way back to your ad, the timer is done. You either catch his eye in that instant before he clicks again, or you don’t.

      I’m not presenting that as an argument for a zero timer, necessarily … but it is a hard fact of life. The REAL face-time you get with most surfers is the amount of time it takes them to click and move on.

      1. I agree if you put it that way. But keep in mind that not every surfer does tab surfing. Whoever does tab surfing is way less likely to sign up on anything because that’s not what they are after. The other surfers, people who never even thought of tab surfing, they are the ones we are looking for. They are the ones who will upgrade their membership and purchase credits. Where is the perceived value for advertisers if the timer goes away?

  11. As an advertiser, I would never put any ad on an exchange with no timer; might as well use an auto surf exchange, which is a total waste of time & useless.

  12. I am all for something different why not let the surfer decide make a level with a no surf timer charge for it or not. Won’t have to worry about the timer freezing up LOL that’s my take.

  13. Sounds good to me If I have seen a thing a 1000 times and I am not interested I still will not be interested on 1001. Perhaps people will look at what is new or interests them. I do it with safelists when I clear them not on the timer and if a site makes me wait 30 seconds I make go get a coffee.

    1. Ryan,

      It’s different fro autosurf because you have to sit there and click the right icon to get to the next site. On autosurf, I can run out for a pizza and be “surfing” the whole time I’m gone.

      The key thing to remember is that it doesn’t matter how long I would prefer people to look at my site. The timer could be three minutes, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to look at it for three minutes.

      Based on my own behavior as a surfer — a tab surfer, but usually not a LOT of tabs open — it’s my impression that if the timer is ten seconds or less, the surfer will see your site for the same amount of time (for as long as it takes him to get his mouse to the right icon and click), unless something about it just grabs his attention. And if the timer is more than ten seconds, he’ll probably see it for even less time, because he probably won’t be surfing there very much.

      As an experiment, I surfed Fugitive today, with three other manual surf tabs and an auto-surf tab. I felt, anecdotally, like I paid as much attention at Fugitive as I did at the three other manual sites, and more than I paid to the autosurf (I just clicked over to that tab every once in awhile to make sure it hadn’t hung up or anything).

      That’s not to say there are no arguments for a surf clock, but I don’t think real eyeball time is one of them. Tab surfing ended the days of “I can make them look for as long as I want.”

      1. Yeah, I’m aware it would still require a manual click but I’m drawing a comparison between what may/may not be a sharp drop in attention span. It remains to be seen and tested. Of course, we as advertisers should make more compelling pages but that’s always been the case. :)

  14. Given the obsession with a timer is it safe to assume that those who won’t advertise on Traffic Fugitive won’t use PPC, PPV or solo ads – all proven advertising methods – none that use a timer. Maybe when push comes to shove the offer isn’t good enough . Quality content should always win the day

    1. Speaking as someone who has experience in all those fields, and has spent a considerable amount of money on each, I believe it is a bit stretched to compare TEs to any of those, it is like comparing apples to oranges.

      If you advertise on PPC, people are entering an exact search phrase (such as in google search), and then see your ad, and only once they click on it you are charged. You can’t get more targeted than that, the person is seeking you out.

      If you advertise on solo ads, the user is reading the mail preferably from someone they know and trust already, which is an advantage from the start, and then only if interested based on the email will travel to your website.

      If you advertise on StumbleUpon (which I never found to be that great, for me, compared to other advertising methods), it is about users discovering new sites and because of their desire to do so and not the need to earn advertising or cash, they actually look at what is displayed because they are doing it openly.

      TEs are incentive based advertising, which means you don’t get traffic unless someone else wants traffic. People surf because they want to earn traffic because they are promoting something (or in some cases to earn cash), they are only doing it for that purpose, not because they have searched for what you are promoting. And in the vast majority of cases, not because they want to discover new sites.

      The difference is huge. Another point, if this was true, why then are there so many people who advertise already on PPC and Solo Ads who don’t advertise on traffic fugitive? Many in fact who won’t advertise on TEs even if they do have a timer. Then, there is no relation at all between PPC, Solo Ads, and TEs with no timer, they are completely different beasts.

      I believe the questions we should be asking is, does no timer actually improve anything? If it delivers more page views, is that our goal, or is it maybe to deliver more conversions? Does removing a timer help conversions? If it doesn’t help, what is it doing? For those who support it, why haven’t you removed your own timers yet?

      The less people have to work for something, generally the less value it has. If you are forcing advertisers to improve their ads to get the same results they were getting before.. isn’t that decreasing conversions? The sites that get skipped because they don’t load in time, isn’t that wasted credits? The videos that never get to play out because someone leaves the site right away, is that a wasted opportunity? How many times have you received several emails and only then acted once you’ve seen it many times, isn’t that proof that people are convinced after the fact even though they think they don’t want something right away? Have you listened to a voice or video, or commercial, etc. and only after 15 seconds it piqued your interest… it happens, even if not to you. What if
      TVs let you push a skip ad button and just continue watching your show, would they get any advertisers? (I realize it’s a different beast as well, but let’s think, shall we?)

      It’s already proven that conversions get higher the longer someone stays on your site. It’s proven by many marketers who have tested it over and over and over again. Just search Google on the topic if you like. While you’re at it, search for conversion rate loss based on page load time. This isn’t rocket science, but the longer your page takes the load your conversions drop like a rock. Shouldn’t we give our advertisers the chance for their pages to load? Or do we forget anyone who doesn’t have the best hosting and page load times and blame it on them for bad conversions, even after they’ve paid us for the page views?

      I think people are asking the wrong questions. Look at facts and the years of experience and knowledge already available around us.

      I’m not against removing a timer, if done properly. What else do you have to engage the visitors, to prove to your advertisers that the people will actually see and care about the sites they view? If people care and view, that increases conversions, doesn’t it? If you remove a timer and do nothing else to change the viewer experience, though, you’re giving the surfer the reward without a promise of engagement. You’re allowing them to “skip” ads with their eyes fixed on the surf bar icons to match the next correct answer, because unlike StumbleUpon surfers aren’t interested in discovering new sites – they have the incentive to earn ads, or cash for clicking – that is it. How easy will you make that job, and at what cost?

  15. Tell you the truth, I surfed it like normal, just added it to my normal routine, never even realized the surf timer was gone, until I read your email Tim (while I was surfing). So then I posted in the chat “no surf timer” nobody even responded. To me nothing seems any different, I do not think most people will even realize their is no timer, unless you tell them.

    Richard Weberg

  16. I surfed for a little while today and found the experience to be enjoyable.

    I was able to see most of the pages before clicking to the next site. This allowed me to claim lots of bonus credits (and about $0.11) that I would have missed if I wasn’t looking at the pages being advertised.

    I probably couldn’t tell you much about the pages I saw but I can definitely tell you who’s pages I saw the most and what they were promoting.

    I probably earned probably as many credits as I would have earned if I were tab surfing… without tab surfing! No crashed browsers. No popups from that page 3 tabs back. Just smooth surfing.

    As an advertiser though I would be concerned if the cost of buying credits did not come down. I like the idea of someone being trapped on my page for a full 30 seconds but if the price is right I would be just has happy with 30 people for 1 second… or 60 for 0.5 seconds.

  17. Well for me it clearly shows that people need to change their advertising. The argument of seeing the same ad 1000 times means you are not setting yourself apart! Having a 0 or even a 30 minute timer will not change this issue. No matter the length of a timer in a TE, or placing an Ad in a PPC, or placing an ad on a blog, or even putting an ad on Facebook. If it looks like all of the other ads you want get the results you want. If your blog looks like and has the same content like all of the others people want read it…

    In short, it shows how important it is to do unique advertising…

    Thank you,

    1. BINGO!

      It is the traffic exchange’s job to put your ad in front of the surfer.

      It is the advertiser’s job to create an ad that makes the surfer stop and go “hmm … this looks interesting!”

      That’s probably going to happen or not happen in the first half second, timer or no timer, because of tab surfing — unless you are using autoplay audio/video that might get the surfer’s intention while he’s in another tab (hint, hint).

      The idea that a longer surf timer is going to force the surfer to look at your ad for longer and make him get interested is a false hope. Make your ads as if they have a fraction of a second to do their job … because they probably do.

  18. This just highlights the biggest question with traffic exchanges. Namely what content do they have. As long as it remains just ads people will just want to surf faster. The only way they are going to be able to hold people’s interest over the long run is to switch to a Hulu type model where there is a reason for people to stay after they get tired of all the get rich quick ads.

  19. Well I thought I would chip in with my say :0 im sure a few have been waiting to hear it lol.

    Firstly I want to say well done Jeff for having the guts to change things up a bit :)

    Now as far as timer is concerned, As a surfer I can see this being a really great feature, Bet surfing increases massively :)

    As an advertiser im un-sure, Its ok saying track it but most advertising is bought on how it looks and on perceived value (You can only track it if you buy it)
    Now Im just thinking it will look bad I mean, We all shop around for the cheaper options. If a banner ad was going to show for a month on one site and 2 weeks on another im pretty sure most would sway towards the month one. I see this happening with credits and the timer. 10 seconds show at this one or 1-2 here mmm

    Now that being said, keep the surfers happy and get more upgrades so selling less credits is not an issue, it be balanced out.

    So in conclusion im not convinced this is a great idea as just catering for surfers means a one way inwards pointing traffic exchange.

    A lot of changes lately have pointed the business inwards, Ie surfing for badges and surf contests etc. You see this is good for all those using it and having fun and making a few bob on the way. However its not appealing to the masses and the bigger world of marketing people. This will result in sites being all similar and no other different things advertised.

    Still this is very interesting to see :)

    How long will this be running for, So I know how long I have to test and track some results.

    Might try adding a image to the splash as the last thing added and track how many impressions it gets compared to assigned credits and page views. That should tell if a page is getting chance to load up in time before people click away.

    Has anyone noticed if people are clicking faster than pages load? anyone got any proof that say 100 pages assigned but tracker only showing less delivered?

    One idea that could make this work is move where the surfbar appears, this making people spend a minute moving the cursor giving the page time to load. I always wanted to track if having the surf bar alternate between bottom and top increased results as people have to scan the page to see where it is.

  20. I have to admit, at first I didn’t like it. But after reading these comments, I don’t really think it is going to matter. Just like Justin said, No matter how long the surf timer is people are only seeing your as for as long as it takes to hit the next button anyway. And I like the ability to click off the sites that have those obnoxious auto-load videos as soon as they load or even before they load! I would not sign up for any program that uses and auto-load video. So, the sooner I can get off their page the better!!

  21. Just an ordinary surfer here, not an expert by any means, but I will tell you that I used to get great results from surfing – similar to the superior results I now get only with safelists and PTC’s. I say that TE’s should be created to allow a person to surf only one at a time. With many PTC’s the timer stops when you leave the page. You are forced to consider the site for at least a few seconds. I would absolutely pay to be a member of a TE like that!

  22. I have not joined it myself yet but am considering. Although I do like the idea of it. I mostly like the idea for only one reason, it can be used to see how much your splash page, product, blog, etc.. attracts people.

    With no timer someone can just keep clicking away, flying past everyone’s page. The test comes in to play when they stop clicking. When your page is so nice looking and such an attention grabber that the person has take a few more moments just to see what it’s about.

    I don’t know if they have it, but the exchange should have a system setup so people can see how long every person has stayed on their page for.

    Although my favorite idea for a traffic exchange goes to profit clicking, I haven’t seen any other exchanges like it so far but it takes the cake for me.

    Their timer only goes down when you are viewing the website. Forcing you to look at it. So, surfers who just click, then go to the next exchange they are surfing, have to view it. If you leave the surfing page at all the timer immediately stops.

    Possibly may join tonight.

    Just thought I would voice some input.

    Jon Weberg

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