Net Marketing - news and strategy

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Sony Ericsson Campaign Uses Actors To Push Camera-Phone in Real Life

'In one initiative, dubbed Fake Tourist, 60 trained actors and actresses will haunt tourist attractions such as the Empire State Building in New York and the Space Needle in Seattle. Working in teams of two or three and behaving as if they were actual tourists, the actors and actresses will ask unsuspecting passersby to take their pictures.

So far, so good. But do the actors then identify themselves as working on behalf of Sony Ericsson? Not if they can help it. The idea is to have onlookers think they've stumbled onto a hot new product. Sony Ericsson, which plans to spend $5 million on the 60-day marketing campaign, says it's all in good fun and just an effort to get people talking.'

$5 million. ?!? ummh and they can't spend this money more effectively? Give me $5 million to spend online and I'll give them buzz with 10 CAPITAL B's. .

Oh no, silly me, they have got an online strategy.

'Other components of the promotional campaign are more commonly used buzz initiatives. One involves "Phone Finds," in which the company will place dummy phones around cities so that consumers can accidentally stumble on them. The screen on the phone will direct the finders to a special Web site, where they will be able to enter a contest to win a free phone. The new phone with camera attachment, priced between $300 and $400, will hit stores next week.'

Brilliant..sigh. God, the best 'buzz marketing' medium to ever raise its head is the internet, yet they come up with an dull online promotion, whilst wasting $5 million on fake tourists.

The war on spam continues

A number of options exist for fighting spam, however, I have to admit that I particularly like this one.

'Like other competing products, ChoiceMail automatically puts the addresses in your e-mail address book on your "white list," which means e-mails from those parties come through without interference. The program also adds the addresses on any outgoing e-mails to the white list as well, making the assumption that users probably want to hear back from anyone they write to. In another common feature, users can also manually add addresses to both their white and black lists.

But here is where the big difference comes in.

E-mail from anyone who is not already on either your white list or your black list is automatically sequestered in ChoiceMail's directory on your hard disk before you ever see it. The software then sends all those would-be correspondents an e-mail that directs them to a Web site (through a link they can click on) where they are asked to fill out a short, easy-to-use and one-time-only form that takes about a minute to complete. The form asks who they are, what their e-mail address is and why they want to contact you. Would-be correspondents also have to copy a short security code into a blank field on the form, a feature designed to prevent automation of the response process.'

This isn't quite perfect, as you will still have to hand approve any legitimate automatic mail. For instance, say you order a product, or subscribe to a newsletter, you will have to look at the logs and manually add the addresses to your white list. I think it would perhaps be better if they pre-approved certain company addresses, such as Amazon, Ebay, etc. Perhaps allow e-commerce companies to apply for exception?

From an industry perspective, be warned, these sort of initiatives are going to play absolute havoc to the email marketing sector over the next few years. Double optin permission email will still work fine with these types of systems, however all other methods will struggle. Could this signal the end of rented lists and opt out email? I think that the answer is possibly - yes. It will certainly be interesting to see whether major carriers such as hotmail/yahoo/aol, start offering such options. If they do, then the implication for email marketers will be very significant indeed.

Evaluating E-Mail Marketing Effectiveness (Or Not)

According to a study by e-Dialog 66% of direct marketers fail to measure the effectiveness of their email campaigns. To be honest I find this statistic astonishing. Can it be accurate? Can so many marketers be so incompetent? This medium is track and measure heaven. Surely every marketer knows that?

Also of those that do measure, apparently the majority (64%) only use very traditional/simplistic metrix such as click through rates and unsubscribe rates. The diagram below illustrates this situation very well, showing what can be done, and what marketers are actually doing. The gulf between the 2 is startling.

Digital 'buddies' latest in elaborate marketing tools

'Buddies are not mere motor-mouths. The more elaborate ones have quirks, preferences, yearnings - virtual personalities.

Their presence on the Web represents a powerful new dimension in marketing. It's easy to ignore a billboard or flip past a magazine ad, and many TV viewers reach for the remote the instant a commercial appears.

Web-based buddies, on the other hand, make a direct, even intimate, connection with people. They allow companies to reach potential customers one on one, typically in the privacy of their homes. The marketing message need not be heavy-handed or obvious: It can be artfully insinuated into light badinage between buddies. '

Look at these statistic from the ELLEgirlBuddy campaign, and tell me you don't want some of this action.

Launch Feb 2002. Results up to end of May 2002.

  • Over 50 million messages to ELLEgirlBuddy
  • almost 1 million unique visitors to the Web site, 58% of whom are repeat visitors
  • Almost 4 million sessions averaging over 7 minutes to the Web site

  • Tuesday, July 30, 2002
    Google to sue Gator

    OK I've just made that up - but it has got to happen soon. I just had the misfortune of using a computer infected with Gator's advertising system. I typed in my search term to Google, and up popped a Lycos page delivering the related results. If that is not blatant traffic theft I don't know what is?

    Gator's defense is that users who install Gator give them permission to serve Gator ads over content pages. Ummh, I'm not certain that this defense holds true. I'm an experience web user, but like many I rarely read terms and conditions when downloading software. More importantly it took me a while, whilst using this infected computer, to actually realise that there was Gator adware on it. The pop up ads certainly weren't labeled as 'Gator Delivered.' My point being that it is more than likely that your average user has no idea that it is Gator delivering the ads, and instead thinks that such pop ups are a normal part of the searching experience.

    Teach Your Toys to Speak IM

    'AT&T teams with a Los Angeles-based toy maker to develop a new line of plush robots that speak written text from instant messages using wireless transfer links.'

    ' The first round of toys, due in September, will include Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck that speak a series of preset phrases. Messengers can pick from a menu of phrases, much the same way they insert smiley faces and other emoticons into their messages. The toys will work exclusively with AOL's AIM environment and will cost between $19 and $25.'

    My simple question to you is - what can you teach to speak IM? Trust me this is important.

    Analyzing Search Engine Traffic to Improve ROI - (worth a look)

    Ad-wise, more proof that bigger's better - finds major boost in brand awareness

    'The introduction ad format is pretty much unavoidable. It pops up the first time that someone visits a site for the day, takes up a full page, and blocks homepage content for a few seconds before dissipating. The unit is served just one time per user per day, and users can skip past the ad by clicking on a button.

    The Clarinex campaign on also included banners, and that reinforcement contributed to its overall effectiveness.

    Dynamic Logic studied the ABC-Clarinex campaign and determined that the lift in brand awareness that it created was 11 times greater than the norm among online ads. The campaign generated message association that was nine times greater than the market norm.

    The Clarinex campaign led to a 12 percent lift in behavior intent, or consumers’ interest in asking their physician about Clarinex. That’s a lift about six times greater than is typical.'

    Much that I hate pop ups, I think that they can be a good advertising format. They annoy users, they devalue publications, but from a purely advertising perspective they can be very effective. Like anything, it is all a matter of balance, cost etc. but what I would say is don't discount them as a tactical marketing technique simply because users hate them. There is a strong possibility that the entity absorbing most from the branding downside associated with pop ups is actually the publication and not the advertised brand. More research definitely is required in this area.

    Salon lives to die another day

    Closing off their content was a non strategy. Advertising is the only thing that can help them in the long term.

    Monday, July 29, 2002
    New survey reveals that top search engine matches equal top brand status for most US online users

    '33% of Internet Users Believe Companies Found in Top Search Results Must Be a Major Brand -- Indicating That Top Rankings Transmit Brand Equity'

    That's great news for clowns like me. I'm currently ranked high on Google for:

  • online marketing strategy (no.1)
  • marketing strategy (no.1)
  • internet marketing strategy (no.2)
  • net marketing (no.4)

    And am presently moving close to the top 10 for a number of other marketing related terms. I have to confess that I was rather surprised to see my site hit the top position for the term 'marketing strategy.' I mean - this site might be vaguely useful, but I'm fairly certain that there are better 'Marketing Strategy' sites out there. I don't know, maybe I'm better than I think, after all, who am I to question Google's judgement. :-)

  • Talk to Frank, the world's spartest ape

    What I like about this latest stunt from the Weekly World News is the way in which it mixes viral marketing with IM. You can talk to Frank using AOL Instant Messenger 'FROM 4pm to 5pm EST ALL THIS WEEK UNTIL 8/2. FRANK'S SCREEN NAME IS 'WWNSMARTCHIMP'

    One of the most successful examples of IM Buddy marketing to date is ELLEgirl. (See Case Study)

    The meaning of spam

    Never mind what your direct marketing department/agency/company think it is, what do users believe spam to be?

    'According to the survey, 90 percent of UK respondents said that spam was promotional or marketing e-mail from someone they did not know, whereas 89 percent said that it was an e-mail containing information clearly irrelevant to their work. Eighty-one percent said it was news or information from someone they didn't know and 71 percent considered it to be an e-mail they did not request, regardless of content or sender.

    Only 29 percent said that a promotional e-mail from an organisation they know was spam, with only 12 percent saying the same for news or information from a source they recognised. In contrast nearly a third defined a mass circulation business e-mail from within the company as spam.'

    Print media loses out to internet

    'According to the most recent study of media use, publishers' fears have become reality in 50 per cent of households.

    The internet is now the third source for news, views and entertainment - after TV and radio, beating newspapers and magazines into fourth and fifth place.

    People spend three times longer surfing, emailing and shopping or banking than they do reading a newspaper. The most worrying aspect of the survey for newspaper publishers is that the key 16-34 age group, regarded by advertisers as the most desirable target, spend 15 times as long on the net as they do looking at a newspaper.'

    Pop Go Those Blasted Pop-Up Ads, iVillage Decrees

    'iVillage, a network of Web sites for women, says it is heeding its readers' complaints and plans to eliminate most pop-up advertising by Sept. 30 on all its sites.

    IVillage said a survey of its readers in March indicated that "92.5 percent of iVillage women found pop-up advertising to be the most frustrating feature of the Web." '

    Saturday, July 27, 2002
    TV Ads beat web ads with viewers

    'According to the survey of 1,144 people (error rate plus or minus 3 percent), 70 percent pay "a lot/some" attention to TV ads. Next came magazine ads and radio spots, tied at 56 percent.

    Only 34 percent pay attention to Internet-site ads and 31 percent to electronic-mailed ads. '

    Friday, July 26, 2002
    A viral campaign for a condom manufacturer

    I have to say - not a bad effort.

    'A new mathematical formula, that estimates penis size, has been developed for people who have not yet seen the real thing in the flesh. '

    Advertisers Aren't Following Flood of Europeans Online

    'After lagging behind the U.S., Europe is catching up in using the Internet, according to a new study. But advertisers aren't rewarding the growth in the number of eyes. Ad spending on the Internet, hurt by a double whammy of a depressed ad market and companies' uncertainty as to how to best use the medium, continues to creep along in many European markets, if it grows at all.'

    Yahoo Marketing Pitches Becoming Very Personal

    EBay Aims To Make Online Trading Easier with 'Assistants'

    OK this makes sense. New users can now hand their selling over to experienced Ebay traders "trading assistants.'

    A friday game

    Hey, don't blame me - I didn't design it.

    The Logic of the Sony Ad Debate

    'Sony's advertorials were snubbed by CBS MarketWatch and Dynamic Logic President Nick Nyhan discusses what that says about online advertising's maturity. '

    Thursday, July 25, 2002
    Miller Launches Branded Calendar

    OK now this is good online marketing.

    'Miller Brewing Company is extending its brand to a free online entertainment calendar that it's hoping will become a central part of consumers' social outings.

    The Miller Time Network online calendar offers local information on music, bars, clubs, sports, food and movies. The calendar also lets users download local maps, buy tickets for events or send invitations to friends.'

    It is great to see a leading brand making a proper commitment to this medium, and one that actually makes a reasonable amount of sense. I made a pitch to a regional director of Coca Cola 3 years ago for an online campaign somewhat along these line (although obvious the plan was to target the teen market). To give the guy credit, he got what I was saying, but his hands were tied. Coke's head office hadn't decided how to use the web in their marketing, so they weren't investing. He was being given $50,000 that year for internet based initiatives, and that included putting up a site. I just laughed when he told me. Christ, his region was 15 countries, and all they would give him was 50K. wtf?

    I'll tell you though, it ain't got much better. From what I can see, and from what I've heard on the media grape vine, nothing has really changed, the internet is still a dirty word in Atlanta.

    WebCrawler Meta-Search Engine Removes Banner and Pop-Up Advertising

    'To further meet the most important needs of today's Web searcher, today the WebCrawler ( meta-search engine removed all banner and pop-up advertising from its Web site. A banner and pop-up free WebCrawler is now available through Labor Day (Sept. 2, 2002).'

    Help keep WebCrawler AD-FREE!

    'Hunter (ED. the name of their spider) believes more people will search using WebCrawler if we remove all the ads. We've decided to give his idea a try. If more people search the Web with WebCrawler in the next 39 days, we can remove all the ads.'

    Making Pop-Under Ads Work?

    Orbitz's has found pop unders to be very successful, getting click through and conversion rates that far exceed the industry average. However, according to the ad agency, they also put a lot of emphasis on "the importance of respecting the user experience." Techniques used:

  • Only serving 1 ad per user per site per day.
  • To give variety each campaign runs with 15 seperate ads.
  • Focus is put on making the ads entertaining.

    Are they living in denial? Possibly, possibly not. I can see why there might be justification for using such advertising early on in a online travel companies life time. That said, Orbitz should have moved their customer relationship on to a different level by now. Delivering an unending supply of pop unders isn't a viable long term strategy. The sooner they realise that the better.

  • Wednesday, July 24, 2002
    Questions to ask SEO company (thread from a forum - worth a look)

    Online Ads Get Clever — But Can Big Business See Beyond the Banner?

    'Bill McCloskey, CEO of Emerging Interest, a New York-based marketing services company that tries to link potential clients and ad agencies, says he is disappointed by the lack of awareness in rich media when he gives presentations on the new Internet ads to large companies.

    "This idea of interactivity is really strong — if I can get the consumer to interact with my brand, I know that's more powerful than a 30-second ad on TV." '

    So why aren't you recommending online techniques that truly create ongoing relationships between brands and consumers. I agree that rich media advertising does have its place, but it is still push marketing. If you can create environments that attract and retain customers, getting them to interact with you frequently, and because they want to, that is real power.

    What women

    A look at how women reach buying decisions.

  • Women Develop and Use Smart Shopping Skills: buying process that involves comparison shopping, consulting several sources, and getting validation from trusted experts or word-of-mouth sources (including their family).

  • Women Are “Constituent-Driven.” : women set their priorities according to the needs of the people most dear to them. (ED. really, in London they don't..well not the single ones anyway. 23-32 is the female "Me Me Generation")

  • Women Seek “Insider” Information and Validation: Women want to hear it from the “insider” -- a person who provides credible, hard-to-find information that they consider unbiased and trustworthy.

  • Women Comparison Shop Through Reading and Research '

    Although this is somewhat generalised, it does make the important point that women definitely do have very different buying habits to men online.

  • Brand Games: Your Move

    A lot of good points are made in this article, particularly this one:

    'The gamble? Allowing the consumer to play with your brand.'

    Web Sites' Reach Matches TV, Nears Mags

    'The top three Web sites -- Yahoo Search, MSN Hotmail and MSN Search -- deliver audiences 43 percent larger than the top three prime-time television programs, "Friends," "ER" and "Will & Grace," DoubleClick's study found. The sites also attracted audiences that on average were just 5 percent less than the top consumer magazines: People, Reader's Digest and Better Homes and Gardens, the study determined.'

    Don't complain about ads -- find creative ways to use them

    HaHa. Here are a couple of his quality suggestions:

  • Teaching tool. What better way to test a child's hand-eye coordination and mouse skills than with the latest online ad techniques? Son, did you see that flash before it disappeared? What was it? Ooh, that car is skidding across the page. Click on it! Get it!

  • Pop-up poker. This is a fun new game sweeping the nation. Surf the Web until you have five pop-up windows on screen (check out the New York Post's site,, if you want to fill your hand quickly). What kind of hand have you drawn for yourself? Three X10s and two Orbitz.coms? Full house! You win. I only had two pair, Netflix high. Combine this with instant messaging and play with all your friends. Loser has to click on all the ads; winner clicks on one ad as a thank you to the dealer.

  • MSN, eDiets in $9 Million Ad Deal

    'The new $9.1 million agreement provides Deerfield Beach, Fla.-based eDiets with online advertising inventory on sites administered through MSN, including MSN WomenCentral, Slate and MSNBC. Some of that advertising will consist of units in which advertisers will be promoted alongside related site content in styles similar to editorial content.

    Additionally, WomenCentral and MSNBC will each host a mini-site featuring eDiets content and interactive tools.'

    Are we heading back to the dotcom silly years? This deal is certainly somewhat reminiscent of the portal deals of old where companies paid $20,000 to acquire customers whose lifetime value to them was $250. Still, I'm sure eDiets have had a very good look at likely ROI ?!!

    Portal deal scepticism aside, even if eDiet are able to receive a positive ROI from this deal, I'd still question whether this is the most effective way for them to spend their marketing budget..infact I'm very confident that it isn't. Where is their imagination?

    Monday, July 22, 2002
    Road Scholar: An Airstream Traveler's Digital Diary

    So why is this interesting? Well because it is an advert by Sony, not a feature article. The National Geographic and others have agreed to run it, however the New York Times refused stating - "on, advertorial content must be clearly labeled to distinguish it from editorial content, and we were unable to agree upon a program ... that would meet these advertising acceptability guidelines."

    In response T. Scott Edwards, consumer segment marketing officer for Sony Electronics claimed that they were breaking paradigms - "We consider ourselves a content provider -- we are buying the space."

    David Cohen, senior vice president and interactive media director on Sony at Interpublic Group of Cos went on to explain that - "We're trying to blur the line between the advertising and editorial boundary, the idea of content integration is not necessarily revolutionary, but the level to which we are taking it is unheard of - we're customizing articles to the particular publisher."

    Reports About the Death of Broadband are Premature - Subscriber Growth Remains Robust

    'Contrary to some published reports, broadband Internet services are alive and well. Increasing user demand for faster connections to the Web has led to substantial subscriber growth over the past year. According to In-Stat/MDR, at the beginning of 2002, the number of worldwide broadband subscribers passed the 30 million mark, and by the end of this year, worldwide subscriber totals are forecasted to surpass 46 million total subscribers. '

    Write my story

    'Next month sees the launch of a new interactive TV commercial which, its makers claim, will show just what the medium is capable of.

    The ad is a two-minute commercial for homelessness charity Depaul Trust directed by Jake Scott, son of Gladiator director Ridley Scott. It is a fictionalised account of the descent of an ordinary teenager into homelessness after he confronts his stepfather for hitting his mother. At various points, viewers are presented with the choices faced by the boy, named Paul.

    Should he report his stepfather to the authorities, or move in with a friend? Viewers are asked to use their TV remote control to decide what he should do.'

    The article goes on to discuss whether TV is the right medium for this form of interactive advertising. Ummh..I'd say - probably not. I would however be interested to see whether something like this could work on the net. There is certainly a viral component to it that could be ripe for exploiting.

    Industry Spending on Interactive Marketing

    According to the 2002 Economic Impact US Direct & Interactive Marketing Today Forecast from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), consumer and business-to-business spending on direct marketing with interactive media in 2002 will total $4.04 billion -- a number that should rise to $8.4 billion by 2006. The DMA also estimates that interactive media marketing sales will rise from $36 billion in 2002 to over $81 billion by 2006.

    Sunday, July 21, 2002
    T-shirt design competition

    'Send your best BT t-shirt designs by Thursday, August 1st and BT will choose a winner! There is no limit to the number of designs you can enter!
    The winning designer will receive two round-trip airline tickets and two hotel rooms for BT's DJ Set at the San Diego Street Scene on Saturday, September 7th, 2002. '

    Not a bad use of this medium.

    Earthlink wins $24 million from spammer

    'The Internet service provider moved for summary judgment in a federal court, and the judge ruled in EarthLink's favor after Khan failed to show up for the hearing or contest the claim.

    "While we don't know if we'll recover any monetary damages, for us, the victory is in being able to take steps that help stop spam," EarthLink spokeswoman Carla Shaw said. '

    Saturday, July 20, 2002
    Interview with Unicast’s CEO, Dick Hopple covering online advertising

    Insightful commentary - my favourite quote being:

    'A couple of years ago the industry accepted nothing basically but banners. It told advertisers they could take it or leave it. Most left it. Now that revenue counts, the industry is so desperate it’s willing to accept just about anything, which is just as bad. We've gone from essentially one format to 6,000. The industry didn't have much credibility before and this kind of short-term reaction isn't going to build credibility now.'

    Friday, July 19, 2002
    Ask Jeeves Links Up With Google to Deliver Ad-Driven Results

    'Ask Jeeves Inc. said its online search engines will start listing advertising-driven results provided by its more popular rival, Google, in a deal expected to generate sales of at least $100 million during the next three years.

    The partnership represents Google's latest victory in an intensifying battle with Overture Services, which pioneered a concept that auctions off a section of most Internet search engines to the highest bidder.'

    Interview with New York Times Digital CEO Martin Nisenholtz

    Interesting interview where he talks extensively about 'surround sessions' explaining why it has proven a suitable and effective advertising format justifying a CPM of $90 to $115.

    'The problem with the original banner notion was that the balance was tilted way too much in favor of the user. The fact is banners, while I think they work much better than most people give them credit for, really don't have the same level of intrusiveness and therefore aren't worth as much as more traditional media. I think that that balance is redressed by surround sessions.

    But the fact is that the balance between the advertiser's need for intrusiveness and frequency and the publisher's need for brand consistency and a very high quality user experience, and the user's need for acquisition of the information -- all of those things are in balance, in my opinion.'

    And how well do pop unders fit into your balance mantra? This contradiction is doing my head in. The NYTD is by far the most progressive publisher in terms of online marketing, yet they continue to pamper to the very worst, whilst clearly understanding why they shouldn't. I give up.

    Thursday, July 18, 2002
    Advertisers Still Like Overture

    'their demand for pay-per-click advertising means that more spending on Google doesn't translate into less spending on Overture. Plus, they say, Overture's policies are far friendlier to advertisers than Google's, giving Overture a distinct advantage.'

    When reading such comments it is also important to appreciate that Google Adword Select is still very new, and that therefore many advertisers still haven't fully got the hang of it, or even tried it. However, the likelihood is that they will.

    What is certainly true is that Google is more difficult and time consuming than Overture to get right. Possibly for that reason, and the fact that fewer advertisers are using it, very significant cost per click savings are possible.

    Making Video on the Web Work: The FeedRoom

    'This past spring, The FeedRoom became the number one destination for streaming news content on the web, surpassing both CNN and MSNBC. How did they do it? More importantly, how are they managing to turn video on the web into a viable business when many news organizations have struggled with or abandoned their streaming strategy?'

    What is interesting is that they are managing to get advertisers involved.

    The LemonAd Barometer

    This is very well put together.

    'The LemonAd Barometer gives you a monthly overview of the (European) market and analyses the latest trends of the online advertising community. Through in depth analysis of campaign activity, sector activity, most popular sites, top advertisers etc… The LemonAd Barometer provides Advertisers, advertising agencies and sales Houses with indispensable information for strategic planing.'

    Bare-Bones E-Commerce Versus Bells and Whistles

    'Online retailers finally seem to be learning that a bare-bones approach tends to attract more customers than one that favors bells and whistles. But retailers are finding that they need to keep tinkering if they want to stay afloat.

    Key points:
  • Search function is important.
  • Consumers are dissatisfied with product images.
  • Usability is critical

    In short, make your site simple and functional.

    Related reading: Usability 101 - a great quick guide to best practice

  • E-mail frappuccino fraud fools customers

    'The coupon for a Starbucks Creme Frappuccino promised, ``Cool, creamy, complimentary.'' It neglected to say: counterfeit.

    Thousands of customers around the country were duped Wednesday when a printable coupon circulated via e-mail for the frothy freebie turned out to be a fake. Even employees were fooled into accepting a few before the coffee chain said they were bogus.'

    Wednesday, July 17, 2002
    Political Advertising on Overture

    If you search for the word 'Greece' on Overture is currently in 4th spot with the following advert:

    'Greece is an unworthy EU member

    Greece has no right to be a member of the European Union. Greece should give back Macedonia to the Macedonians, which is obvious for any one not Greek. Article published in Denmark.'

    I'm not certain that this advert is entirely within Overture's editorial guidelines ;-) Or is it? Regardless, it is interesting to see PPC advertising being used in the way.

    The Five Golden Rules of Web Advertising

    The Internet Advertising Bureau, UK branch, have completed a study in conjunction with Dynamic Logic Europe into effective internet advertising. Whilst I'd tend to agree with their general findings my golden rule for online advertising is somewhat different - Negotiate the price down so much that it hardly matters whether the campaign is effective or not ;-)

  • Larger ads work better
  • Plan frequency
  • Target audiences
  • Be bold with your logo
  • Cut the clutter

  • Meet the Nigerian E-Mail Grifters - (a former player explains the scam)

    The power of inertia

    Here's an interesting idea, put forward by the ever insightful Anne Holland.

    'Everyone's talking about selling subscriptions via auto-renew, but just yesterday I heard a new spin on this -- selling online ads via auto-renew. The publisher (who asked not to be named here, lest his/her competitors get any ideas) told me they used to try for a three month sale. Now they try for a month-to-month sale, with a three month minimum to start. "You can cancel at any time," the reps tell advertising prospects, "it's so easy." Then the publisher sits back and relies on the "power of inertia" to keep revenues streaming in. According to the publisher in question, his/her ad revenues are up nearly 100% since the auto-ad-renew program began a few months ago.'

    Will It Be a Pop-Up Future, or Can Media Fight Back?

    Rick response eloquently to my comment on his post about pop unders. Interestingly he actually had the opportunity recently to question the NYTD on their policy on accepting pop under ads.

    In this post he evaluates the cost/benefit, questioning whether the revenue gain from pop unders warrants risking the downside to their brand?

    'I meant to put Calder (VP of marketing at New York Times Digital) on the spot, to make a point of calling him to account for the obnoxious format. His reply was weak, basically just that in this economic climate, they had to pander to the money.'

    Rick goes on to conclude after analysing the potential return, that 'in the final analysis, they'd be better off ceasing to carry pop unders, making a PR splash over it ("Leading online publisher announces it will no longer carry controversial Intenet ad format") and make up the 2% in revenue the old fashioned way, by demonstrating that the merits of their audience (whom they respect enough not to treat like teenage wankers) are worthy of an ad premium from high quality brand advertisers (i.e., not including X10).'

    Such a strategy would certain make sense, although by definition it would require them to accept that they were wrong to have ever served pop unders. Google, who have never served pop unders, have already shown the merits of taking this a position. They sent out a press release explaining why they do not accept pop ups and never will - (We find them annoying) and received favourable coverage across the board.

    To be frank, I've got no idea what the NYTD is up to. I've been a great admirer of so much of their innovation - Surround Session/Day parts, yet their acceptance of pop unders is so contradictory to their overriding progressive policy. The thing is that I know that they get this. For instance there was certainly something ironic about this recent article - Puncturing Web Ads Before They Pop Up.

    I'd just started reading the second sentence when I was hit with a pop under. The article goes on to advise on how to block intrusive advertising. Caught up within his blocking tutourial was this rather telling comment:

    'Few people object to everyday banner ads or margin ads; after all, Web sites have to pay the bills somehow, just as magazines and television networks do. But the new style of ultra-aggressive ad is a different animal. Your browser becomes like a TV that won't let you change channels until you've watched an ad or two.

    If advertisers really want their ads to be noticed, maybe they should do what TV and print advertisers do: make the ads clever, engaging or even thoughtful.'

    Perhaps he should have gone on to say - 'and if publishers don't want to loose their audience, then they should show them enough respect not to hit them with spam advertising.'

    Porn sites, fan sites, hobbist sites, and even certain ecommerce sites can all be excused for serving pop unders. The NYT knows on some level that what they are doing is shameful, and entirely inexcusable. Surely they must have a moment of clarity soon.

    Tuesday, July 16, 2002
    ActiveBuddy Pulls Back the Curtain on IM Bots

    'Interactive-agent developer ActiveBuddy is now adding the term "software and services provider" to its boilerplate. The New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif.-based firm said it is making available a software development kit (SDK) and a server so that enterprises can create and deploy interactive agents, also called bots, over instant-messaging (IM) services.

    Interactive agents are software applications that interact with users via IM or other text-messaging services. ActiveBuddy has developed several agents that are mainly used by companies wanting to push products or services to consumers, including eBay, Reuters, ELLEgirl Magazine and the upcoming Austin Powers movie. '

    I'll be test running this over the next week or so, and will report back soon with my findings. It looks very interesting.

    NYTD Pulls Off a Profit

    'The digital division of The New York Times Company has pulled off its fourth straight quarter with an operating profit, its parent company announced today.

    Revenues for NYTD increased 15.9 percent in the second quarter to $17.8 million, from $15.3 million in the 2001 second quarter. The results were part of The New York Times' overall earnings.'

    Gator to Court: OK, We’ll Stop, But Hurry Up

    'Online marketing services firm The Gator Corp. said it will abide by a Virginia court’s temporary injunction from serving its controversial ads on certain publishers’ Web sites, but called for a speedy resolution to the lawsuit.'

    The New York Times, one of the publishers suing Gator, report that the judge suggested a potential out for Gator at the hearing.

    'In court Friday, Judge Hilton said that he found enough evidence to support the plaintiffs' claim that Gator's advertisements violated trademark laws in particular, according to court transcripts. He did not elaborate on his decision, but during the hearing, he indicated that one issue was the proximity of Gator's pop-up ads to the publishers' trademarks.

    "Maybe that's the problem," Judge Hilton told Gator's lawyers. He went on to suggest a possible solution, saying Gator could employ technology that would display a Web site, then an ad, then return to a Web site in sequence. "But you wouldn't have your message there under somebody else's mark," he said.'

    WTF? Pop up ads coming to TV?

    'So you're lounging at home watching the heartwarming movie "Father of the Bride Part II" on TV. Actor Steve Martin is stressing. His wife and daughter are both pregnant. And then -- bam! -- up pops an advertisement superimposed over part of the TV screen.

    "Expecting a baby?" the ad asks. "Call American Express Financial Services."

    Within about 10 seconds, the ad is gone as the movie rolls on in the background. The experimental ads ran this summer on TNT, and executives at the Atlanta-based cable network don't rule out using more pop-up ads.'

    God help us all.

    In related news Rick Bruner describes pop unders as 'the cockroaches of our industry.' He goes on to say - 'As Scott points out, anyone who would argue in on the one hand that the Internet can be effective for brand advertising and then on the other hand sell pop-under campaigns should be ashamed of themselves. I commend Organic for even a de facto no-pop-under position and would rejoice to see more media buyers take an even stronger stance, declaring this an official policy.'

    To my mind, the only way to end the pop up/unders era is to change the attitude of publishers. They are the ones that have got to say to marketers that this form of advertising is simply too intrusive, and ask them to come up with some milder alternatives. OK now that may be kind of stating the obvious, but the point that I'm trying to get across is that whilst publications of the standard of The Mercury News, USA Today, The Guardian and The New York Times, continue to accept pop ups/unders then every publication can feel justified in using them.

    Leading on from that, I would take issue with Rick's comment on pop unders and brand advertising. In my opinion pop unders can be great for brand advertising..well at least the brand awareness aspect of it. To illustrate my point, this morning I was reading a story about QXL takeover of Aucland in The Guardian, and was hit by a pop up announcing the arrival on the New Vauxhall Vector. Now whilst it somewhat pissed me off, the advert had its effect - I am now aware that a new Vector has been launched.

    The argument Rick is making is that whilst I'm now aware of the brand message, I will also have negative feelings towards this brand because I was exposed to a pop up. OK, well let me have a think about this. Just bear with me a second.

    Right, I've thought back to this morning and considered how I felt about receiving that pop up. After a bit of soul searching I realised something quite interesting - my 'annoyance emotion' was in fact directed at The Guardian, not Vauxhall. Now that is bizarre, I had never considered that that might be the case. Ummh, I wonder if I'm alone in this? Think about it, who are you really annoyed with? - the pop up in a generic sense, the brand, or the publication. OK, obviously in the case of X10 my hatred is directed at them, and solely them, but I can't think of that many more pop up advertisers who have really pissed me off. Orbitz maybe? Ummh I think some more research is required here.

    E-Mail List Rental: Smart Move or Big Mistake?

    Lots of great information on the present state of play in email marketing. I found this particularly interesting, well as interesting as I'm capable of finding anything to do with email marketing.

    ' Many gray areas impinge on the e-mail marketing process. When it comes to growing and maintaining a high-quality list, e-mail marketers must balance the trade-offs between opt-in and opt-out approaches. Each offers separate benefits, as shown in research from IMT Strategies. Nearly 80% of respondents indicate that if you want to grow a list quickly, use opt-out techniques. The same percentage says that if you want to maximize the revenue per name in the list, bring permission-based, opt-in techniques into play.'

    Monday, July 15, 2002
    Emotion: The Next Frontier in Online Advertising?

    'I think the deeper issue is the medium is still very young and we're all still trying to figure out what works. If you look back at the early days of TV advertising, it conceptually looks very similar to ads you see on the Web today: stand in place, hold up product, repeat several funny lines, ask for the buy. That works fine if you're selling Vegematics (or servers or credit cards or online casinos or...), but if we're ever going to progress beyond generating the Pavlovian click response, we're going to have to learn how to dig deeper and create campaigns that appeal to the heart as well as the wallet. In the end, it may be that the next frontier of online advertising has nothing to do with the technology and everything to do with the imagery.'

    Here's a question - how many times have you said to a friend -'oh did you see that great online ad for blah blah?' Now, how often do you talk about TV ads? It might just be me, but I love it when Nike or Levis, for instance, come out with a new ad. What about amusing ads? No online advert has ever made me laugh. Now let's think about what would happen if they did? That's right, if you created an ad that truly touched someone on an emotion level, you could find them actually forwarding it to others. The fact that very few ads presently (Absolut have) make it easy for you to do so is in itself is an admission of failure. I can just imagine the ad exec's thinking - 'hey, but its online advertising, everyone hates it, no one is going to forward it.' Yeah, correct if you produce uninspired crap.

    Yahoo prepares eye-boggling onslaught

    'Yahoo's new high-profile ad team: Unicast designs pop-ups, that will allow more movie-style ads on the site; Point Roll specialises in roll-over ads that expand when a user rolls his mouse over them; Eyewonder lets advertisers broadcast ads without a Flash-style media player and Eyeblaster provides technology for animated ads that move across a Web page.

    We notice Yahoo has a new look, but we wait with trepidation to see what these backroom boys come up with. Judging by the reponse the INQUIRER has had to running, moving, flashing ads that are nevertheless contrained to their own boxes on this site, Yahoo had better brace itself for a deluge of dissatisfaction.'

    Sunday, July 14, 2002
    Nerd test

    My result - 46.90% - Help, how did that happen? I'm almost half way to becoming a geek :-) God, it wasn't that long ago that I needed help turning on a computer. In my first year exams at uni, and I'm not joking, I got 12%. Although to me fair that was partly due to be hitting the reset button half way through because someone told me that it was the quickest way to save work.


    Definition - 'A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic.' Glen Grant (Further definitions)

    I watched Fight Club last night, which got me thinking again about meme's and their power.

    For those of you interested in the potential of viral marketing, below are a few meme resources that may be of use.

  • Memetic Lexicon - Meme Related Jargon
  • Memetics publications on the web
  • Lycos Viral Chart
  • memepool
  • metafilter
  • blogdex 25
  • Daypop Top 40
  • memepusher
  • meme monitor

    Tracking the spread of memes, monitoring their impact, and altering their structure, is something that can already be done effectively online. However, marketers have done little more that dip their toe in this golden pond. The web is completely geared to this form of stealth communication; its potential should not be ignored.

  • Saturday, July 13, 2002
    Judge clamps down on Gator

    'A federal judge on Friday ordered software company Gator to temporarily stop displaying pop-up advertising over Web publishers' pages without their permission.

    The order was issued in a lawsuit filed against Gator in June by The Washington Post, The New York Times, Dow Jones and seven other publishers, which allege the company's ads violate their copyrights and steal revenue. '

    Gator CEO Jeff McFadden said in a statement that -'no court will issue a ruling eliminating a consumer's right to decide for themselves what is displayed on their own computer screens.'

    That is not the issue. Adware, aka Scumware, steals media time. That is the issue. Content providers own media time not peripheral software companies. Let me put it this way - if Gator wins, then it directly follows that Microsoft has the right to put adware software within their Internet Explorer browser. I'm sure Bill wouldn't mind owning 75%+ of all online media time on top of his existing empire.

    Friday, July 12, 2002
    There is some other stuff I want to comment on, but that will have to wait. I've been run off my feet for the last couple of days, I've got an inbox full of mail, too much to do, too much to think about - and then there is this bar that won't stop insisting that I go drink in it. As always, the bar has won out ;-) Until tomorrow, have a great weekend.

    Popular Sites among Young People

    'The Zandl Group notes that gender disparity remains, in terms of websites of interest, among young people online -- while 15% of guys prefer search engines and/or portals and 11% prefer sports sites, 26% of girls prefer entertainment and/or news sites.'

    AIM 5.0 to Feature Themes - include Ads

    'The upcoming version 5.0 of AOL Instant Messenger will include what AOL calls AIM Expressions -- downloadable "themes" that add graphics and animation to users' "Buddy List" and chat windows.

    In addition to providing new customizability features for users, AIM Expressions are expected to serve as a larger platform for advertisers.'

    Wednesday, July 10, 2002
    The World's 500 riches people 2002

    Due to a blatant flaw in the judging criteria, I appear to have been missed off this list yet again. They've also left The Duke of Westminster out of the top 50, which is ludicrous. He owns half of central London, well just about. Anyhow, those errors aside, the list makes interesting reading. I just wish Forbes would get their act together, god I'm only a phone call away.

    Top 10 ways to irrate your visitors

    This article has possibly been around since the beginning of time, or it could be new, I don't know. Anyhow, whatever, classics are timeless, and this really is an absolute classic.

    Oh yeah, completely off topic - I had a bit of a drug filled day today. First there was an announcement at Euston station that went something along the lines of 'Could the people selling drugs on platform 5 please please stop, and leave the premises.' I know that almost everyone in London takes drugs, and that the police have basically stopped charging people with possession, but I wasn't aware that you could now sell openly at train stations, with the only deterent being the possibilty of a loud speaker asking you to leave. I'm in the wrong business.

    And then, about 15 minutes later I read in a magazine that up until 1916 you could buy cocaine over the counter at Harrods - which Google helped me confirm. Bizarre.

    Update: Britain relaxed its drug laws today, making dope a class C drug, the same as sleeping bills.

    YouthNet to launch viral email campaign

    Blah blah - they've got an online game that allows you to compare pulling (how to attract people of the opposite sex) techniques with your mates..blah blah, the campaign is going out to 500,000 clubers by email to help promote a website carrying information on hot European club holiday spots - Ibiza and Ayia Napa (they were so 2 years ago, like I'd know ;-) ). Blah blah, yawn. OK so why am I posting this? Well for one simple reason - it irrates me how unimaginative 'creative' people can be and still get paid.

    A lot of effort has gone into this spamathon, and what enticement do they offer as a prize to assist participation - that's right - the chance to win a holiday in Ibiza. God help me, why not a prize that is a story in itself? Who is really going to viral this around, telling their mate 'oooh you could win a holiday.' Viral my arse - A stupid game, a dull prize - how the hell is this news.

    Students respond to wireless coupons

    'Retailers participating in a wireless coupon program through the University of South Florida are experiencing a 10% redemption on the coupons, which are delivered to students’ cell phone, PDAs and pagers. The program was developed by the university’s IT department and has 46 participating merchants, restaurants and nightclubs. Retailers pay 10 to 15 cents per message.

    The manager of a restaurant having a slow night, for instance, could go to a computer, log onto, enter the discount the restaurant wants to offer, select the age of the students the restaurant wants to target, a geographical location, then confirm the price per message and the number of messages being sent. The vendor`s credit card is then charged the amount calculated and the wireless discount coupon is sent to students` cell phones, PDAs or pagers, as instructed.'

    In my opinion wireless is going to play a huge integated part in future online activity. Oh yeah, and the reality is that the future I'm talking about is already here. Convergence marketing is what it's all about, working out ways to mold numerous forms of communication into one coherent plan.

    Tuesday, July 09, 2002
    'Tribal' campaign for Oz Lotto

    I thought I'd share this mail from a marketing list I'm on, as it gives an interesting insight into the thinking behind viral marketing campaigns.

    'Currently signing up one a minute.....

    a.. Scratch n Win ticket promoting new Australian Lotteries 'Operation' Scratchie game.
    b.. Online 'Tutorial' built in Flash to tie in with offline launch of new game.
    c.. Link to tutorial seeded to small house list and in existing print media
    d.. Independent tracking URLs used in offline and online seeding campaigns
    e.. Users incentivised at three levels: 1.Completion of ticket rewarded with BOGOF (Buy one get one free voucher) to be redeeemed in the newsagent or Lotto retailer. 2. For every friend referred (that goes on to subscribe) a chance to win $300 worth of Scratchies and 3. Fun game provides reason for completion.
    f.. Strategy used to improve 'House List' data on prospects from a simple e-mail to full contact information including mailing address, e-mail, SMS and PRS (Player Registration System) Numbers as well as Tribal spread through referral process to sign up new users to house list.
    g.. Uses personalised, automated text based e-mails to avoid non HTML e-mail client issues and speed up referral process.
    h.. Referral e-mails come from user not organisation and use conversational copy.
    i.. Users sent confirmation e-mail upon sign up and congratulations e-mails upon sign-up of one of there refered friends
    j.. Users provided username and password for opportunity to sign in, change details, unsubscribe or refer more friends.
    k.. Tracking maintained through pointing all traffic through measured re-directs onto single destination URL
    l.. Dynamic performance reporting, traffic and sign-ups provided to client through web interface for campaign success measurement

    Play it here:'

    Overture gets confusing... and greedy

    I've covered this before, however there is no harm in spelling it out once more, which this article does particularly well, and in serious detail. Really, this is urgent, important and relevant to any of the 60,000 companies currently using Overture; from what I've heard many of them are allowing themselves to get screwed because they haven't grasped the realities of this new bidding system.

    David Scott Anderson: An unapologetic resume spammer

    This is quite entertaining. Delcan (owner of Politech) reports a spammer who in turn reports him, getting Declan's list service partially shut down. Declan being experienced in this field manages to sort out the problem, however he is concerned that others might struggle seriously in dealing with this 'shut down - check later' policy adopted by most ISP's.

    Classic quote from the spammer:

  • "Is it possible that you are a racist. Did you go to my site and see that I am African American, and have a problem with that?"
  • "I have looked at your site, and AM NOT impressed, you are a sniveling little technophile who has the arrogance and sense of self importance the actually believe someone cares!"

    Following up from this saga, others on the Politech list share their experiences of being wrongfully blacklisted.

  • Logophilia - Spying on new words

    The News of My Death...

    'The newspaper business is going to die within the next twenty years. Newspaper publishing will continue, but only as a philanthropic venture..

    Much of the primary reporting is done not by employees for individual papers, but by news services such as United Press International, Associated Press, and Reuters. My guess is that a web-based network that relies on those sources could survive on a far lower subscription price than newspapers, while paying UPI and the others enough in fees to make up for the departure of the newspaper business. Ultimately, news junkies may pay $5 or $10 a year to a web-based network, rather than $150 a year for a newspaper subscription.'

    ...Has Been Greatly Exaggerated

    Related reading:

  • Study: Newspapers' Web Traffic Exploding

  • Why Interactive Marketing & Privacy Must Mix

    If you read one article today, make it this one. It is important.

    The endless stream of spam has certainly taken its tole, and online marketers now must bend over backwards twice to ensure that consumer/user concerns are addressed. This particular golden egg requires some serious long term treatement.

    Related reading:

  • Personalized e-mail: The anti-venom of spam
  • BT throws your important mail out with the spam

  • Monday, July 08, 2002
    Internet music industry - an alternative (inside) view

    If you are interested in this fiasco, then this article is an absolute must read.

    What do the following sites have in common?

  • Dead Journal
  • SubProfile
  • IM Tools
  • IM Chaos

    Answer: They are all in the top 10 most visited website by 13-19 year olds (source Nielsen/NetRatings)

    That's right folks. Generation ICQ or IM is all about communication. If you want to reach them get with the game.

    Question no.2: Do you know how to reach 400,000 people between the age of 16-25 for less than $300? I do :-)

    Question no.3: Could you get 50,000 young people to visit your site for $50-$75? I could.

    Trust me, I could go on and on and on, but anyway, all I'm trying to say is that if you are a marketer who wants to use the web to promote a product or brand I implore you to start spending much more time on the net, getting to grips with how people (not AOL moron subscribers) actually use it. Remember 11-15% (Gartner) of our media time is now spent online..why oh why is so little marketing spend/effort being directed at this medium? Answer: Your average marketer doesn't get the web. (Don't give me that - web marketing doesn't work dribble, it is you that doesn't work)

  • Need Leads? Put Your Site to Work

    'Most companies already have professional Web sites. Your own may have rich content, a clean user interface, and compelling calls to action. Despite all that care, 80 percent of all unique visitors will abandon your company's Web site, never to return! (Ed. I love it when people throw out stats without giving a source. Remember 67.34% of all stats are made up on the spot)

    Very few sites try to capture the visitor's email address before she leaves their home pages. If your company is in this majority, you're losing the opportunity to engage people in a cost-effective, ongoing dialogue via email marketing.

    Solution - (Ed. copy one of these companies apparently):

  • Barco Products
  • Giant Floor
  • Road Trips '

    Actually, this guy does have a point. I don't know the statistics (Ed. well go find them you lazy git), but it is true to say that by not collecting, or at least trying to collect email addresses from visitors, your company is missing out on a substantial opportunity. Which reminds me - sign up to my email newletter now. Why? Well because it has been statistically proven to be the least intrusive email newsletter on the web (I haven't written on yet). Furthermore my offer contains this promise - I'll only send one out when I have something important to say..which could be never. Either way, I won't be disturbing your inbox unless entirely necessary.

  • If you can't beat them, buy them - eBay Buying PayPal in $1.5 Billion Deal

    'The deal takes eBay, one of the few success stories in the Internet commerce sector, a step closer to providing a full-service operation, from listing to payment processing.

    "Having the leading payment processor fully integrated into the leading e-commerce site brings a great deal more value to both companies," said Legg Mason analyst Tom Underwood. "It also keeps eBay's focus on providing a more full-service offering." '

    It has also been announced that Ebay, unsurprisingly, will be phasing out Billpoint (Ebay's attempt at a billing system, which up to this point had failed to encroach on Pay Pal's dominance).

    Overall this deal should come as a surprise to no one; Ebay understands, better than anyone, the advantage that a market leader has in certain sectors of the internet economy. In billing, like auctioning, the natural structure of the sector makes it very hard for any company, regardless of resources, to catch a leader once they've got sufficent momentum going. Pay Pal had that momentum - 28,000 new users a day, with Gartner expect their total user level to reach 25 million by 2003. Ebay has clearly decided that it wasn't worth continuing the fight. I agree.

    Law on unsolicited email takes effect

    'TOKYO — Legislation went into effect midnight Sunday to tighten regulations on unsolicited email advertisements called "spam."

    The legislation requires senders of email ads to attach messages telling receivers the email is unsolicited advertising and how to reject any future ads. The legislation also prohibits the senders from mailing ads again once they have been rejected. It prohibits sending a large amount of email to nonexistent addresses — the practice believed to make it easy to send massive amounts of spam.'

    To my mind this should be the absolute bear minimum legal requirement. However, on a federal level the US is not even close to achieving even this basic form of anti-spam legislation. Why? Well the quick answer is - because so call legitimate marketing operations are lobbying against it? They tend to put forward the argument that mass spammers can't actually be stopped and therefore any spam legislation would only end up impeding reputable industry players. Ummh.

    Sunday, July 07, 2002
    User Empowerment and the Fun Factor

    'Summary: Designs that engage and empower users increase their enjoyment and encourage them to explore websites in-depth. Once we achieve ease of use, we'll need additional usability methods to further strengthen joy of use.

    Key points:

  • It's very enjoyable to visit a website that works, where everything just clicks for you. In contrast, a user interface that doesn't do things the way you want feels sluggish, unpleasant, and possibly even hostile, despite the designer's no doubt sincere attempt to invoke positive emotions. A user's personal experience trumps anything the designer is trying to communicate. In talking about a design's "look and feel," feel wins every time.

  • Such engagement requires usability. If users can't master the interface, they'll feel oppressed rather than empowered, and are unlikely to explore or use anything beyond the absolute minimum. On the Web, this "minimum" often turns out to be one or two page views, and then users are gone -- never to return.'

    This is great stuff; I recommend that you take the time to read it in full.

  • Saturday, July 06, 2002
    Someone quoted me - what is the world coming to

    This astonishing event happened about 3 weeks ago, and I've only just found out. I made a comment on a message board ages ago, and someone asked me whether they could use it. I said yes, and heard nothing further. Anyhow, after doing a search for my name the other day on Google, I found out that it was actually used in reputable industry publication.

    The offending comment can be found half way down this page. It concerns an article that I wrote on Salon just before Christmas. God, if I keep this up it won't be long before I'm labeled as a guru ;-)

    I love you

    This should have been Valentines day viral advert for Thorntons or someone. Oh the potential :-)

    Web site barred from linking to Danish newspaper Web sites

    'Challenging the World Wide Web's fundamental premise of linking, a Danish court ordered an Internet news service to stop linking to Web sites of Danish newspapers.

    Copenhagen's lower bailiff's court ruled Friday that was in direct competition with the newspapers and that the links it provided to specific news articles damaged the value of the newspapers' advertisements. immediately removed its links to 20 Danish newspapers that belong to the Danish Newspaper Publishers Association, which filed the complaint and welcomed the ruling.'

  • Related reading - Statement of Defense.
  • Background - In the Press.

    OK, playing devils advocate, I think that I can understand why Danish newspapers have a problem with Newsbooster deep linking. In short, if you control Danish news, you don't want your users to have the ability to effective search it, or receive summary headlines. What you want is people visiting your site/sites every day, browsing the news sections, moving from one paper to the next, and ideally starting at the front page. Newsbooster, by providing headlines via email, and on their site, discouraged user from following the process desired by the newspapers, and in a respect became their front page.

    Now, the important aspect of this case is that the Danish newspapers acted as one, creating a policy based monopoly. When there is natural competition it doesn't make sense for a newspaper site to prevent deep linking, however take competition away, and it makes a great deal of sense. Advertising revenue will be maximised if users are forced to visit a site in order to see headlines, and if they are forced to browse 1 or 2 levels before they reach news stories. That is the commercial reality, and that is why this case was brought.

  • TouchGraph GoogleBrowser V1.00

    This new Google API allows you to create a visual representation of network relationships between sites. This could prove helpful when formulate link strategy. Very cool.

    Friday, July 05, 2002
    Obituaries Messager Launched via NYT

    Who said subscription models are dead? No more missed gloating opportunities, ObitMessenger will inform you the moment that someone you hate dies.

    'How it works

  • Enter up to 5 keywords for each newspaper selected. Keywords are the search criteria ObitMessenger will use to search the obituaries. Keywords can include names, schools, hometowns, places of worship, etc.

  • Each day, ObitMessenger will search the paid obituaries from the newspapers you've selected.

  • ObitMessenger will send you an e-mail when it finds obituaries containing any of your keywords. The e-mail will be sent the day the obituary appears.'

    Surely a bargin at $199.99/year. You can even sign up for a 30 day free trial. Go on, you know you want to.

  • Net users seek first and surf later

    'Figures collected by the Pew Internet Project show that e-mail checking is the only thing net users do more regularly than type terms into a search engine.

    The survey shows that people are learning to trust the results returned by search engines instead of scouring the web themselves for information. Searching is starting to replace surfing.'

    I thought I'd tie this in with another article - 'Shortals' herald search friendly search engines

    'A new breed of search sites are on their way, offering users access to a list of short, researched and relevant websites, at least that's the theory. The newly launched site, 1Do3 promises to eliminate the laborious process of trailing through hundreds of suggested websites for relevant information.

    "The web can be an incredibly efficient way to get things done but many people are put off by the sheer quantity of information available. 1do3 exists because we realized that by careful filtering, we could make the internet into a genuine practical tool for UK users," said David Hopson, one of the website's founders.'

    I have to confess, when I read this article I was fairly convinced that would be crap. However, to my total shock it isn't. I get what they are trying to do, and it is actually quite clever. Certainly worth taking a closer look.

    Bug watch: Spam with everything

    Bryson Gordon of thoughts on spam.

    'Unfortunately, the situation can only get worse. The longer you keep the same email address the greater the probability of getting spammed. Jupiter estimates that 268 billion advertising email messages will be sent in 2005 - representing 22 times greater volume than in 2000.'

    Thursday, July 04, 2002
    Elastic, not sticky

    'They care much more about making their site elastic: vistors aren't stuck in the site, but when they leave, Google knows there's a good chance they're coming back. Loyalty without lock-in. Elastic sites work well because they embrace the "Webness" of the Web...they allow people to interact and communicate with each other as they prefer to do in the real world. Human relationships are elastic in nature. Like a clingy friend, nothing is worse than a needy Web site sucking all of your time away and not letting you spend any time on other sites.'

    I believe that there is a direct correlation between the experience of a user, and their susceptibility to being 'wall gardened.' For that reason I expect there to be a long term trend against people using sites such AOL. If you want proof of this, go to Slashdot and ask 1000 people whether they user AOL online as a website, rather than simply as an ISP. For my money 100% of them would say no. Or try another test - try and find someone who's used AOL, then started using sites outside the AOL network, and then subsequently gone back to using AOL as their major content provider. Surely no such person exist?

    Net savy people don't user AOL, in fact they hate AOL. Why? well because AOL's whole design goes against the very nature of the web. The internet is not about boxing people in, it is about improving their quality of life. For that to happen people have got to be allowed to use it in the manner in which it was designed. To AOL, the internet is their personal Truman Show. They've created a false world and are now desperately trying to con people into believing that there is nothing outside it, or at least nothing worthwhile. In my opinion any strategy that relies on the ignorance of others will eventually fail. When dealing with the internet focus has to be put on delivery. Google has spent nothing on advertising; they understood the internet, produced a great product, and then allowed the web to do what it does best - spread the word. Companies would do well to remember that bad word spreads too, so heed the advice of Mr Kottke. Sticky is dead, long live Elastic.

    The Declaration of Independence of the Thirteen Web Sites

    'The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united Web Sites of America,

    When in the Course of computational events, it becomes necessary for one gathering of webmasters to dissolve the Internet links which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the web, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Internet Routing and of Internet's God [w3c] entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of webmasters requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all web sites are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are hits, visitors and the pursuit of money. --That to secure these rights, search engines are instituted among the web, deriving their just powers from the consent of the spidered, -- That whenever any Form of search engine becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the webmasters to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new search engine, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their hits and income..'

    Happy 4th of July to my American cousins.

    Delta + Baseball = Multimedia Campaign

    'Rob Sherrell, Manager of Interactive Marketing at Delta, talks about this recent integrated campaign and about how his marketing budget is/will be allocated.'

    Wednesday, July 03, 2002
    Overture's Auto Bidding Feature Warrants Serious Consideration

    This article evaluates the issues surrounding the introduction of auto bidding.

    'As my summary opinion, expect to see a lot of discussion about what's wrong, and little about what's right, regarding Overture's new Auto Bidding feature. Expect also to read some epic tragedies about advertisers caught by a Snuggie and tapped for the equivalent of a month's advertising budget, or more, in a single day. Some will be crafty enough, and well-enough equipped by utilizing a good ABMT, to work the system to their advantage and may actually realize some overall gain. Most won't. As Auto Bidding presently works, the overwhelming advantage would appear to rest with Overture, at the expense of their advertisers.'

    You won't get any arguement from me on that.

    Fraud continues to dog eBay

    'If eBay's a golden city, con men and scam artists lurk in its back alleys.

    After talking to the seller and getting a copy the car's title sent to him in advance, he wired the money to an escrow company--and fell victim to an elaborate scam. The seller had actually hijacked a legitimate eBay member's account and set up a fake escrow service.

    Out the money and angry at eBay, the Atlanta resident is vowing to never shop there again: "This wasn't $50. This was $50,000. But there was no help," said D'Amelio, who said he got form letters back from eBay when he alerted them to the fraud. "They're useless in a bad situation. I tell everybody to stay away from eBay."

    From Objects of Desire Come Subjects of Attention

    This article discusses how to reach consumers that actually want to communicate with companies. He suggests that the type of people you are looking for 'are more active communicators; they publish their own Web sites, participate in news groups, and so forth.'

    If you fancy hunting down this bizarre species, then grab your elephant gun and head over to - MetaFilter, Slashdot, Netslaves, Fuckedcompany, Fark, or Kuro5in. The ultimate prize would obviously be to bag a big time blogger, however they are becoming increasingly thin on the ground, so you are probably best to stick with stalking small fry.

    How One Spam Leads to Another

    Call me lucky, but I don't get much spam, especially considering how careless I am with my email addresses. The problem is that my fortunate situation could change over night if I were to give my address to one wrong vendor. What this article is basically pointing out is that in the West email addresses, once gathered, are passed from one marketers database to the next. Little consideration appears to be made as to the original terms on which that address was given out. I know for a fact that this is true, having seen numerous examples of companies swapping lists, without making any attempt to limit the use of such lists.

    Tuesday, July 02, 2002
    For The Anti-Spammers, It's All-Out E-War

    'Martin Roth's computer erupts with the sound of gunfire whenever it detects and kills incoming spam. Each shot is another small victory in his battle against junk e-mailers.

    He devotes hours here each week as a volunteer member of SWAT, the Spam Wranglers Action Team, hunting for spammers and trying to shut them down. His aim: an Internet where you only get the commercial e-mail you asked for.'

    We live in hope.


    'Is the Internet a boon to brand owners, or a lawless environment of brand piracy, misuse and abuse? Both, say the founders of Brandcops, a new brand protection and management service launched this month.

    Brandcops cites one compelling real-life example: "A prominent brand monitored during the testing phase was found to have over 90 percent of its exposure on the Internet showing negative or damaging associations; whilst its own informative website was virtually invisible in terms of search engine exposure. Net effect: that brand’s presence on the Internet was overwhelmingly derogatory, distorting public perception of the brand and the company, and undermining all the effort (and money) being invested. We’re here to do something about these problems."

    Magic name, and they've definitely got a point.

    Ads are getting bigger

    Top of the Heap

    'The prestige. The pageviews. The revenue. All that, and more, awaits the number one website in Google search results.'

    Overture Says Forget CPC, What's Your ROI?

    All well and good, if it was the case that everyone played by those rules. However, in reality bidding is far more complicated than that. People don't just base their bidding on simple return on investment calculations. It is warfare. From my initial evaluation Overture's new system appears to be designed almost solely to encourage bidding to rise. That is hardly surprising, they would have had an army of game theorists working out optimum return. My complaint, if any, is that they launched this new system under the guise of it be great for advertisers. It is not, it is great for Overture.

    Monday, July 01, 2002
    Sites told to 'fess up Search results often advertisers

    I was going to post this on Friday, but couldn't be bothered, because the story was everywhere. I then changed my mind, as the story is worth commenting on. What a lot of people forget is that others aren't necessarily as tech savy as them, and that in fact there are some people who still think that AOL is the internet. For them, you've got to make it blindingly obvious what is an advert and what isn't.

    An unrepentant spammer

    This is an interesting insight into the workings of a true mass spammer.

    'So how does it work? Scelson offers this example of a mailing campaign for a client selling travel packages:

    Opt-In Marketing sends out 80 million e-mails offering vacation packages. For each person who clicks on the e-mail to visit the travel company's website, the company earns $1 - a fee roughly in line with industry norms.

    More than 99.9 percent of the recipients may ignore that come-on. But if the e-mails go out by the millions, only a small fraction need respond to make the job pay off big.

    "When I send that much mail out, I'll generate 30,000 to 40,000 travel leads in a week without a bit of problem," Scelson says.'

    Frightening stuff.

    Sergey Brin - Marketers of the Year

    "Sometimes people think of marketing as something that tricks people into doing something. But we (Google) focus on the user experience," says Brin. "If the user experience is solid, then people will come back. The focus is on getting people results."

    The simple strategy is working. The audience for all search engines grew 11 percent to 92.3 million unique visitors in the six months from November 2001 through April 2002, but Google saw the most phenomenal growth of the largest search sites, according to a recent study from Jupiter Media Metrix, New York. During that same time period, Google grew 54 percent to 34.2 million unique visitors, while Yahoo! search only grew 20 percent and MSN search only 16 percent.'

    Google's Dilbert series can be viewed in full here.

    The other Marketers of the Year were:

  • Bill Fasig and Tom Galvin - VeriSign
  • John Callies - IBM
  • Don Frischmann - Symantec

  • L90 to buy DoubleClick's N.American media business

    IM: Instant Gratification for Marketers?

    Citing a case study about Ellegirl's Active Buddy this article examines how marketers can integrate instant messaging into their marketing mix by using IM bots. (other Smart Child bot's in action)

    'Recently ELLEgirl Magazine launched its own ELLEgirlBuddy, an ActiveBuddy bot that thinks it's a hip 16-year-old girl living in San Francisco. Ask her for fashion tips, and she'll point you to the latest styles from all over the world. Wondering what makeup will work for you? She's got the scoop. Just IM her using AIM or ICQ and unleash the teen girl within.

    Results from ELLEgirlBuddy have been pretty amazing.

  • Over 50 million messages to ELLEgirlBuddy
  • Almost 1 million unique visitors to the Web site, 58 percent of whom are repeat visitors
  • Almost 4 million sessions averaging over 7 minutes to the Web site'

    Those sort of numbers are very hard to ignore.