uQast – How Andy Beard Was Subverted

 

Update 7th December 23:30 CET

I have compiled a list of the reasons I believe people should be interested in uQast (and what attracted me in the first place)
It also mentions my uQast Bonus

uQastJust over a month ago I watched a preview presentation of a new “software as a service” application called uQast. Whilst watching the presentation I had a browser open and did a little digging around, found the development site and started poking to see what it offered.

I then dropped a friendly email to the developers who I already had extensive contact with from their current & previous ventures with some feedback. I could see a lot of promise with the site, as I had with its predecessor.

Hints were made bilaterally that some more formal feedback could be provided in some capacity, though I really wanted to avoid a drawn out negotiation period, and I could see a rough diamond that I could help polish. Just polish… not cut & shape as most of the real work in creating a massively scaleable digital delivery platform was already done.

At the time I was in the process of puting together my own tightly integrated membership site here on andybeard.eu and to play a proactive role I was going to have to at least postpone those plans for a lengthy period of time.
There was also a ton of products I wanted to promote as an affiliate, articles & commentary that really needed to be written, including formally writing about my weird Pinocchio SEO stuff in public with over 2 years of research.

Somehow things worked out and I have been busy for the last month.

What Makes uQast Different To What I Planned?

For 5 years I have had a bee in my bonnet about creating a platform that in some specific way enables both publishers to publish content and affiliates to promote it with some unique technology or “special sauce” sticking it all together and allowing me to leverage my skills & experience.

uQast isn’t it

I say that in a good way – in many ways my entrepreneurial yearning to create a specific platform, and all the preconceived feature requirements that I had built up over a period of 5 years was a double edged sword – both allowing me to come up with solutions to complex problems almost at the drop of a hat, and at the same time instilling an urge to make uQast a surrogate of what I wanted to create rather than the established mission.

So the largest barrier to overcome in my own mind and in negotiations was that uQast is something different despite whatever significant synergies exist.

uQast Is What Exactly?

uQast’s mission is to be the world leader at collecting, ordering and monetizing valuable digital media content.

You could call that the short form elevator pitch I would probably have to worry about remembering if I was talking to important people.

Digital Marketing

Digital media content is anything that can be downloaded or streamed. Video, Audio podcasts, eBooks & white papers in PDF or doc format, even software in a zip file is possible.
In theory the platform could be used for hard goods, services etc though there might be issues with delivery validation for the credit card processors that have to be carefully thought about.

There is no advertising on the site – the majority of the business model depends on users actually selling products they create.

As well as being able to use promotional content on the site itself, it is envisioned to be able to embed the content on “any website in the world” and have actions & transactions take place “in situ”.
I say “envisioned” – the player has a lot of great unique functionality but it is currently most suitable for videos, but doubles as audio.
Transactions include actually buying product, signing up to a real email list right in the video player, giving a “tip” for a free video and various sharing and embed options.

Having the content playing on “any” website is going to take a little time. A lot of time over the last few weeks has been spent on embed code improvements, and it is early days yet. The long term goal is to get the videos embeddable on Facebook & Twitter via Oembed, and even viewable in Google Reader, Buzz etc.
There are special requirements to be met and obstacles to overcome – one example is player size – whilst the 640×360 widescreen player can be resized, some of the intenal windows for shopping can’t.

There is also some special functionality I want to add that will help take things one step further and make uQast the defacto platform for video SEO, though discussions are fairly early days.

The video player is highly customizable and it is something anyone can do.

uqast player customization

One of the big features that is hard to equate is the tip jar – I don’t know how this micropayment system for free content is going to work. Ooyala has had micropayments for a while, and recently introduced Paypal Micropayments platform.
The uQast micropayment system is their own… there are some hurdles to overcome but it is functional.
Oh, and Ooyala is extremely expensive compared to any planned uQast offering I know about.

This Is A Long Tail Play… For The Little Guys

The long tail is a big deal

In any market, there are a few big players who seem to get all the attention.
But their importance, influence and ability to positively affect consumers are dwarfed by the combined effect of all the small players.

- Brad Fallon uQast Founder

It is also about quality content and a ranking system within search results based upon quality reviews from consumers, that is resistant to gaming.

uQast Search Results

Advance Features

There are, and will continue to be added lots of advanced features with an emphasis on making them surprising easy to use.

One area I have spent a fair amount of time testing has been the upsell system.

You define a number of offsite pages which will contain your various upsell and downpage offers, and uQast provides you with the “Buy Now” and “No Thanks” buttons to place on each page.

uQast upsell interface

But being able to set up an upsell chain is one thing – being able to effectively measure it is quite another.

With uQast we are most of the way there as the shopping cart is maintaining the session all the way through, and thus we can achieve quite an effective sales funnel in Google Analytics.
Ideally there are a few things which still need to be added but I know at least one shopping cart I attempted to use on a project this year where the use of javascript with iframes made it almost impossible to set up a full funnel in analytics. Lots of custom programming to the javascript that embedded the iframe that called the sales buttons was outside my budget, but without it I had to kill the project as being able to demonstrate sales data was an intrinsic part of the project.

UQast Goal Funnel - Google Analytics

Andy Beard Subverted & My Most Biased Review Ever

For the last month or so my “computer home” as in what has been showing predominently on the screen of various PCs has been uQast, the Jira Bug Project & Issue Tracker being used, and various test domains – also a fair chunk of very specific research.
So I have been ripping the site apart trying to make things break all that time, though not to the same intimate level of detail as the programmers working on the project.

I could just publish a list of every outstanding bug or missing feature I know about – if you have ever spent some time delving through the WordPress trac system you would know that sometimes non-security bugs take months to come to prominence, and features might take years unless you code them yourself or they become “blessed”.
But that wouldn’t be a fair evaluation compared to the months/years of work that have already been invested in the project to get it to the current stage.
Development from my perspective is pretty nimble, there is good team co-ordination and dedication to achieve the mission, and create a phenomenal useful service.

This isn’t intended to be a full review of uQast but as the launch wheels have started rolling I needed to get some words out in the ether. Most likely in the next few days I will highlight some of the additional things I personally find interesting and feel important to mention.

And I have left tons of things out that I am sure will end up being raised in the comments… and we can handle them there.

Any questions… criticisms… fire away!

The thoughts about uQast in this post are purely my own and I have liberally peppered this post with referral links mainly because I love tracking stuff, but you might enjoy the 2 tier affiliate program that pays for a year. You can sign up for the launch affiliate program here.

 

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Comments

  1. HERBS says

    looking good for the use of Social media content publishing .. lets see how it goes .. i have not checked it but going to learn about it at the weekends.

    • says

      “Social media content publishing” is so yesteryear compared to a platform where specific actions such as a purchase can be included right in the player.

  2. says

    This is the first time that I’ve heard about uQast and I think it’s cool and very useful. If this would be used Digital Art would be much easier to manage. I just hope that the artworks won’t be hacked by anyone.

  3. choosehottubsdirect says

    I love the schematic diagram you used for this. It makes it easy to understand the whole concept of uQast. That’s a great idea. :)

  4. says

    I think you’ve latched onto something that is going to be really big, Andy. I’m not going to sit back and watch this one take off, and wish later that I had jumped aboard when the opportunity presented itself!
    To have put something like this together in only three years is phenomenal. They have have a very sharp team put together.

    • says

      My honest belief is it has huge potential otherwise I wouldn’t have got involved.

      Whether jumping on board it the right option for you depends on what you want to do online. uQast currently is a platform designed for presenting and selling digital media content, and if that is what you want to do, it is a very solid offering, though I am not going to try to suggest it is the only option.
      It can also work in conjunction with other platforms for delivering digital content inside a membership site.
      Theoretically it can even work as the payment processor for a 3rd party membership site rather than using uQast for the product delivery, but that currently would take a little seting up and some programming to do it.

  5. Steve Bartoli says

    Heck, just when I get to grips with the present range of social media stuff out comes another one to grapple with!
    No seriously, it sounds like it will be work checking out for shopping trolleys, if I understand correctly?

    • says

      My knowledge of the long-term roadmap is a little limited – I have been a little too busy to really think of uQast itself as a “social” site – the user interaction is really limited to reviews and ratings currently whichout “social” interraction.
      I would think a higher priority would be placed on the syndication of content on other services and it isn’t inconceivable that offsite interraction might somehow flow back to uQast in the future.

  6. Beaufort SC Homes says

    Wow. Diigtal media is somethng I am trying to understand as learn how ot use on my websites. Might take a while.

    russ

  7. says

    Aloha Andy, hey thanks for the post here. I just came across uqast today. went through all their info and like what I see. Are you a affiliate of uqast? If so, am wondering how as I do not yet see that option on their page. Though if you are and I sign under your link, will you be offering any type support? Lastly, do you know if the company will have live tech support? I love the concept, it looks very well done. Thank you, sr :)

    • says

      My exact status with uQast is complicated but lets say I am at least a consultant and have been working with the system for over a month.

      There is an affiliate link in the post – if you use it I will be happy, if you use someone else’s I will still be happy but poorer.

      I haven’t finalized a bonus offer because the obvious one – offering some kind of direct support assumes I will have time to handle it. I am happy to handle adhoc questions on Skype as time allows for people to get up and running, but that level of support isn’t something that can be provided on an indefinate basis.

  8. says

    Thanks Andy. I like your sense of humor :O) yes I understand the support on your side. how about the company’s side? Do you know anything about their ability to provide good support?

    • says

      My understanding is that there will be a much more open support system than you would typically expect in “internet marketing” circles. I have seen mention of Get Satisfaction being used but haven’t seen a live portal. I have just been concentrating on other things.

      The developers have been very proactive in the time I have been dealing with them though obviously the priority has been to finalize things to be a product ready to launch rather than on new features. I am optimistic about the support, though it is going to take time to ramp it up – one of the reasons to have a slightly more exclusive founders launch is to get some action takers through the door who will be proactive.

      The danger is that they are paying customers and paying customers want everything perfect from day one whereas is you offer a free service you can have a “Fail Whale” every day for 3 years and still have users.

      There is a no questions asked 30 day refund period – I hope the team will do a great job and that the majority of people who take up the offer won’t want to use it.

  9. Gazza says

    Well well well, seems that Mr Fallon has reared his head again after the fall of stompernet and his leaving of myweddingfavors.com

    • says

      I am well aware of almost everything that has been published everywhere

      Stompernet is still alive and kicking as the answers people get on the forums to their problems from the expert moderator team is among the best I have experienced anywhere.
      All the training videos still stream, and lots of software applications are both live and functional.

      So technically Stompernet hasn’t fallen.

      It may have fallen from grace in certain parts – I think part of that is due to some information becoming available but never the full and complete story however it has been portrayed.
      As for MyWeddingFavors.com it is still up there ranking – I am not even going to attempt to unravel the truth behind what has become public.

      What I do see is a talented team working on uQast – I am in contact with them every day and I see the hard work they are all puting in to make this a success. Not just to make money but to deliver a platform that really works as intended.
      I spent many years in software development (especially games but also applications) and I know how hard it is to deliver complex products working with large teams.

      The communications is currently effective and the team is extremely proactive in spotting issues with the application – that is actually rare. In the past I have known games devs who don’t even play games, they were only interested in moving pixels around in 3D.

      If the product was in any way “not fit for purpose” I wouldn’t be promoting it.

    • says

      I have tried to steer clear of highlighting some of the current and future SEO benefits, many of which are at a conceptual stage.
      There are lots of things I would love to implement but we are currently sticking to implementing features that are integral to the core mission.

  10. Don Smitherson says

    This seems like a very powerful marketing tool with many possibilities. I’m fairly new to internet marketing but understand the power of video. To include a shopping cart directly in the system is awesome. Glad to have found your post. Uqast looks to be the next big thing in online marketing.
    Thanks for the info.’

  11. says

    I think you may be on to something great here. I really appreciate posts like this that can relate to nearly all businesses including the office furniture industry which is what I specialize in.