Have a Good Eye for Ads? Try the (Lucrative) 4-Hour Body Experiment…


(Image: X-ray Delta One)

Some of you have no doubt noticed that I’ve been experimenting with advertising for several months, whether at the top-right, through skyscrapers in the sidebar, or even under posts on a rare occasion.

It’s been a learning experience. Sometimes, it doesn’t turn out totally awesome. Case in point:

I think I can do better. I also have an incentive: the new book, The 4-Hour Body. But then I realized, I think you all can be FAR better. Collectively, I think you can be AWESOME.

So, I’m running a competition. Here are the prizes:

1) The fantastic North Face Prophet 65 Trekking Pack (Retail: $319)
2) A round-trip anywhere in the world Star Alliance airlines fly (or $1,000 cash)
3) All 4-Hour Body revenue via ads on my site for two weeks (potentially every post ever written), using your Amazon affiliate code. Untold riches.
4) Fame, public credit, and eternal glory for being the best.

The deadline for the competition is next Wednesday, 10/20, at 10pm PST. It pays to get started as soon as possible. Here’s the idea…

The Basics

1) Create an ad or a few ads (can be text only) for The 4-Hour Body.

2) Optional but encouraged: Test your ads

3) Post your best four or fewer ads as pics on my Facebook fan page. If you did testing, indicate what you did in the pic description or in the pic comments. Deadline for submissions is next Wednesday, 10/20, at 10pm PST.

4) Of those submitted, I will test “a bunch” (technical term) of the best on this blog using split-testing. I’ve heavily biased towards those that have been tested. I’m also biased towards early submissions, so don’t worry too much about someone copying you.

5) I’ll do a follow-up post describing the process, real-world results, and top 3-5 performers for each ad type. I am happy to link to your site or company site if you are among the top performers. This is valuable.

6) If your ads perform the best, not only will you get glory and recognition for being the best, I’ll also use your ads (subject to my approval) on the blog. The kicker: for the first two weeks, I will use your Amazon affiliate code, which means you get all of the affiliate revenue.

The Details

1) Create one or more ads for The 4-Hour Body.

The sizes are 300 x 250 (seen at the top right of this blog) and 468 x 60 (which would go at the bottom of every blog post on the site). These sizes can be seen here. Text-only ads are absolutely allowed, but they could only appear at the bottom of posts.

Create one or both sizes (or text). Do so from scratch and/or using the book cover, elements from the book cover, any of my Flickr photos without a copyright attribution in the description, or any of my YouTube videos without someone else’s copyrighted material in them. Of course, feel free to use any other materials or images you own or are legally permitted to use (including stock images that are royalty-free or licensed).

In other words, text, display images, and video are all OK, but they need to be static unless the reader clicks on something.

Keep them R-rated or less, and use your common sense (nothing racist, etc.).

2) Optional but encouraged: Test your ads, even just a little.

If possible, test your ads on your site or through an ad network (Google Adwords, Facebook, wherever) to determine which have the highest click-through and (ideally) conversion. Please link to The 4-Hour Body on Amazon if possible, and that’s my request if using any book elements or my materials above. Of course, feel free to use your own affiliate code.

Here’s a note on Amazon affiliate code and PPC, from reader Tyler:

If you look at amazon’s FAQ for PPC

One of the Questions/Answers is:

“Q: If my paid search advertisement directs a user first to an interstitial page, then to http://www.amazon.com, http://www.endless.com, or http://www.amazon.ca, will I earn advertising fees?

A: No. However, if you place paid search advertisements to send users to your own website, and then your website displays links to http://www.amazon.com, http://www.endless.com, or http://www.amazon.ca in accordance with the Operating Agreement, you may earn advertising fees for qualifying purchases made by users who click on your paid search ad, click through to your site, then click through to an Amazon site.”

Essentially, how I understand this is that you can’t have a PPC that leads to your website and then automatically re-directs the “clicker” to Amazon.

But, you can have a landing page with a big picture of your book cover with a link that like “buy it now” or “more info”. One would probably want to make the image of your book, also an affiliate link when clicked.

If you need an alternate landing page for testing, besides Amazon or your own landing page, please use this blog post.

How do you test “conversion”? Look at actual book sales. Use your Amazon affiliate ID (get one here, if needed) and see which ads actually convert to sales. That dancing gorilla or Swedish swimsuit model might get the most clicks, but what actually moves books?

If you can prove conversions another way, go for it.

3) Post your best four or fewer ads as pics on my Facebook fan page. Once you become a fan on the page by “Liking” it, here’s how you submit your ads.

In text: To upload a photo to my page, all you need to do is click the ‘Attach: Photos’ icon on the wall. Select the photo, then hit the ‘Share’ button.

4) I will test the best of these on this blog using split-testing

5) I’ll do a follow-up post describing the process, results, and top 3-5 performers for each type, linking to their sites as credit.

6) If your ads perform the best, you will all the goods and recognition described at the beginning of this post, including all Amazon affiliate revenue for your ads throughout my entire site for two weeks.

The Deadline and Fine Print

The deadline for ad submissions on this Facebook page is next Wednesday, 10/20, at 10pm PST.

This competition is void where prohibited, blah, blah, blah. If you’d be doing something illegal, in bad taste, or that would cause your ancestors to cry, you are not allowed to participate. Es tut mir Leid.

I really look forward to seeing what you can do :)

Posted on: October 13, 2010.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

158 comments on “Have a Good Eye for Ads? Try the (Lucrative) 4-Hour Body Experiment…

  1. Hey Tim,

    Having actually done the same kind of very brief/minimal time investment training I’ve got pics of myself I’d like to use in the ad. Is this OK? Unlike stock photos, it’s actually of someone who works out less than 4 hours a month, so I figured that’s even better.


  2. I think I will try this out. If there is not age demographic, something with Justin Bieber would certainty get a high CTR if the ads were targeted the tween girls.

    Also, I have been dieing to know your Adsense results.


  3. This is by far the best contest I’ve seen to promote a new product. You are not only going to have hundreds of people create banner ads for you for free. Your also going to have hundreds of people testing them and driving sales during their “testing phase.”


    I’m entering.

    Can we get pics of you and pics of your book?


    • Hi Chris,

      Great question. I don’t even know what a DART tag is :) Have no idea, I’m afraid. If the ad kills it and it’s easy to implement/code DART tags, I can probably find a way, but I don’t want to make any promises, considering I’m a Luddite…




    • You need to search for the Constrain Proportions option from the menu of whatever photo editing software you are using.

      Instructions for photoshop.

      Click on image, image size, then put a checkmark in CONSTRAIN PROPORTIONS.

      Now type in a new Height and Width and it will resize without distorting or ruining the image.

      Good Luck :)


  4. Hey Tim,

    I think that the amazon affiliate program does not allow people to use PPC to drive traffic directly to amazon’s website. So in the testing phase, you can’t have a google ad that when click directs the “clicker” directly to amazon.



    • Hey Tyler,

      Thanks for the note. I’ve added another option in the post. If you have any suggestions for how to otherwise test conversion (perhaps an intermediate landing page with “buy now” that leads to Amazon?), I’d love to hear it. Or you can keep it for yourself :)




    • Really? Hmmm… Let me look into that, but you should be able to. There’s a decent chance you’d have to become a “fan” first or “like” the page to submit a pic. I’ll investigate further…

      [Edit: Once you’ve become a fan of the page, here is how you can post a photo: http://bit.ly/bdeAh0 ]


    • Hi Katie,

      I’m keeping this one simple. If it’s illegal for some reason, no. I’m offloading the responsibility to the contestants on this one. If you win and no one calls me or writes me from the government, then you’ll get the prize.



    • LOL… gotta love the Amazon forums. My book doesn’t answer that, but I can tell you. The consequences are: you eat your own poop. That’s punishment enough. Gotta love that someone’s putting together a pro and con list, though. A market for everything…


      • Dear Tim,
        I am just adding to the fan base to say how much I like your writing and ideas. It’s inspired me to start my own blog of stories to share with others, lots of amusing true accounts. Already 590 hits in 3 weeks. I finally joined facebook and twitter, but want advice on how to get the word out even more and beyond those who know me. Any help/advice? Keep living extraordinarily!


  5. Tim, you are a genius. And I’m not kidding.
    If I come up with any good ideas, I’ll be entering… if not, I’ll definitely follow the continuation of this experiment. It’s going to be amazingly interesting to see how many people are going to participate and the type of ads they are going to create.



  6. why not just run a contest for someone to write your next book for you while you are at it?

    this is spec work.

    spec work devalues the potential of design and ultimately does a disservice to the client.

    If you want to learn more, http://www.no-spec.com is a good resource.


      • M has a good point. This is yet another case of readily available technology flooding the market with mediocrity. It started with desktop publishing. All of the sudden, anyone with a computer and a laser printer could call themselves a graphic designer, simply because typesetting tools became affordable. It did not take long for all manner of crap to be produced by people who knew little more than how to use a typewriter.

        The trend has continued into other areas as well. It’s great to have powerful tools which enable people to do things they could not have done previously, yet one of the drawbacks is that those with little training, and often even less natural talent are working cheap, or in the case of this contest, free, and the buyers are often as not, getting second and third rate work. What’s good about that?

        Tim, you’re fond of nice cars. Let’s say Ferrari has a “competitor” in Burkina Faso, who can make what they claim is a comparable car for 1/3 the price. They’re using battery-powered arc-welders handled by barefoot teenagers who haven’t wielded anything other than a sledgehammer before last week. Somehow they manage to build a vehicle which -looks- like a poorly executed scale model.

        Which one do you want in your garage? How should Ferrari (or graphic designers) “adapt their business models accordingly”?

        The under-valuing of creative services is not new, mostly because the left-brain customers rarely understand or appreciate the process. If the designers are lucky, they get some respect, and the work is not diluted to the point where the creators wonder why they were hired in the first place. Ask any industrial, graphic, interior designer or architect. Every one of them has a nightmare story or three. Then of course, once the work is done, the client may or may not pay for the work.

        And now, it’s a free for all, spend many hours doing work on spec, “client” gets the value, at no cost. If a designer’s work is not among the chosen, they’ve lost several day’s work, if not more, staff time and overhead costs, and have nothing to show for it. How do you suggest they pay for the requisite continuous training, really expensive software, and hardware to run it, office to house it etc. if they are constantly chasing lowballers who want something for nothing?


    • If I’m not mistaken, isn’t that exactly how mega-enterprise Chicken Soup for the [pick something]’s Soul works? I mean… “exactly”?
      1. Hold a writing contest for the best stories about “being a grandma” or whatever.
      2. Pay the “winners” of your contest $1,000 for their work, in exchange for your ownership thereof.
      3. Publish all of the “winning” works in a common volume with a catchy name.
      4. Market the book effectively.
      5. Smile a lot.

      Don’t try to change the way the world works, find a way to profit from how you already know it works. Gravity can be your friend or your enemy, depending on how you choose to use the inevitable constant that surrounds us.


  7. Wow. That’s a pretty good contest for a graphic designer like myself to enter…

    Besides the affiliate $, would be nice to win the plane ticket since I’m in the process of selling everything I own to travel the world (departing in January 2011).