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 🙂

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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

  1. This contest could give both of the worlds enjoying being fit and at the same time it could give the chance to cruise to my dream place…. WOW

  2. Brilliant Tim,

    Another example of your Intelligence + Creativity. You can use the Minds of Thousands of your Fans / Admirers to create a Fabulous Advertisement for you. It’s like having your own employees & even better than VA (as the people who will design you ads follow your work & know you ). Although I understand that people will be well remunerated for their efforts.

    It will be interesting to see the follow up results of this Contest / Experiment.

    Could this be Labelled as CrowdSourcing (technically) ??


  3. I swear to god Tim, you always come up with the best contests.

    You are officially the contest king of the internet.

    New blog post: How to Set up Contests for Fun and Profit?


  4. Those are my proposals… I used rich-media, since no one else used so far.

    And because its my specialty, I work with this stuff on daily basis…

    Since I can’t upload flash files to Facebook, I had to create a link to host my work: http://the4hourbody.tumblr.com/


    (facebook: Bruno Cesar)

  5. Heya!

    I know you asked for static banners, but past experience with banner campaigns reported better performance with animated banners than static ones (anecdotal – sorry I don’t have figures to share 🙂 ). I’ve done three banners and have posted them at http://www.thecosmonaut.com/4hb/

    Hope you like!



  6. This is such a great idea in so many ways.

    I took my first attempt at Google AdWords for this contest which resulted in zero clicks/impressions/everything 🙁 I guess we’ll see how successful it is when I start collecting the revenue from it after I win.

    I started a blog with inspiration from you so hopefully I will have some traffic by the next contest!

    1. Hi Michael,

      Thank you so much for trying. That’s where it starts. Remember one of my first products? The audiobook that sold ZERO copies? It all starts with attempts and trial-and-error 🙂

      Keep it up!


  7. I submitted two entries about a half hr ago. Like someone above said, they aren’t showing up in the “other photos” section.

  8. I had great fun with this the last couple of days. I started writing a little blog post about it which became a monster analysis of the whole ad campaign process. After both text and image ad testing I finally submitted my ads an hour or so before deadline.

    If anybody is interested in Google Adwords campaigns and creative headlines you can check out the analysis of my ad experiment here: http://www.bbenediktsson.com/how-im-trying-to-win-the-4-hour-body-competition/

  9. People around the world should have this awesome book by Tim Ferriss. But before the world knows this book, it should have a very impressive and nice ad ever. For those participants, GOODLUCK and give your entire best so that your ad will be selected.

  10. I thought this might be and decent place to post this based on content. I have been listening to “Do lectures” since your post about Maggie(Amazing woman) I watched a talk by Jay Rogers. He is trying a similar experiment to this open source ad campain, 99designs etc… with automobiles. Its called Local Motors. Have you watched it, and what do you think? It seems pretty extreme to be accepted on a large scale, and from an engineering/safety standpoint it seems to have some huge holes.

  11. Ah man I missed this, would have loved to contribute.

    In a lot of my tests ugly wins the day, definitely. Things like red, arial text and blue underlined text in image ads with no anti aliasing traditionally have fetched me much higher CTR on display networks than fancier versions.

    Other enhancements like dashed lines, faux play buttons, and added scroll bars have all worked to enhance CTR dramatically.

    Ugly has not only improved CTR, but also conversions too.

    Great content as always Tim (not sure how I missed this!)

  12. This post was voted “Best of Craigslist”

    For all of you Ferriss fanboys and girls, this pretty much sums it up:


    Contest to be my boss!

    Date: 2010-03-02, 4:28PM MST

    I am a graphic artist and in need of a job. I have decided to fill this need the same way many people think the can fill their graphic design needs; with a contest!

    Here is how it will work;

    Send me one weeks worth of salary and benefits. I will keep all of the checks that are sent to me and use all of the benefits.

    Whoever sends me the best salary and benefits package will win the contest and get the prize of two days of graphic design work!!!

    Good Luck! I am really looking forward to recieving your payment packages!

    it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

    Compensation: 2 days of Graphic Design work

  13. Ok… I am a total nubie at this. It took me a couple of minutes just to figure out how to post a question! I am attempting to sign up for an associate account on Amazon and they want the name of my website and the name of the site I will be directing traffic from. (I have entered the 4 hour body page for this). I do not have my own website yet. Can I enter the main four hour website for this?