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December 2005, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, December 16, 2005

Google Buys Into AOL

Google is buying 5 percent of AOL, in a victory that prevents MSN from getting a piece of the subscription service/content portal.

The deal helps AOL because it could get more exposure on Google's advertising network, while Google advertisers will have greater access to tap into AOL's extensive content and subscriber base.

As I said last week, the two companies make much better bedfellows than MSN and AOL, which more directly compete.

"We believe this deal makes it more difficult for MSN to develop a strong advertising network as scale is very important in order to attract (advertisers)," says JPMorgan analyst Imran Khan, as quoted by "By tying up AOL, Google has made it more difficult for MSN's ad network to reach critical mass."

So the question is, how does MSN answer back? MSN needs more eyeballs for its search, so buying a media property with lots of customers and getting them to switch from Google sounds promising.

Google Buys Into AOL By John Gartner at 07:24 PM
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Yahoo Digs Deeper Into Data

According to today's Wall Street Journal, Yahoo is teaming up with Marketing Management Analytics to provide better information about the relationship between online ads and sales. The firm will apply "econometrics" principles used in broadcast to analyze sales and advertising data to find correlation.

Yahoo's customers will have to pay for the service, which will try and factor out all of the other influences affecting sales (such as the health of the economy, personal savings versus spending) to figure out how much of the sales growth is directly attributable to online ads.

Online ads have a much greater potential to effect purchasing decisions because they can prompt immediate sales or at least lead people to find more information. Therefore, the statistics offered to advertisers should be much more reliable and accurate than what is available for broadcast. Perhaps Yahoo will increase its use of using cookies and registration to track behaviors to enhance the models beyond speculation.

As we statisticians (I suffered through a semester of econometrics) say, correlation is not causation, so you have to be very careful in trusting models that project sales figures based on two independent sets of data. I prefer hard data to extrapolating branding and exposure to ads to purchases. Advancing reliable online analytics is key to convincing advertisers that online spending is a wise investment.

Yahoo Digs Deeper Into Data By John Gartner at 03:18 PM
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Thursday, December 15, 2005

My Own Private WebTwoOh

Years from now we will remember 2005 as the watershed year when personalization moved to the forefront of the Web. Tools for creating personal experiences for yourself and sharing your experiences with others are at the heart of most Web 2.0 applications.

From personal stories (blogs) to journeys (TravBuddy), music (iPods and MySpace), and photos (Flickr), to tools for personalizing search, news, feeds, maps, and shopping, the world is being contoured for each of us.

Because of this, the online experience of 2008 will look nothing like how we surfed in 1998. The majority of what we see and hear will be pre-screened, filtered, and delivered to our LCDs in a customized view.

But there is one significant piece missing -- personalized ads. Today's customization of advertisements is loosely based on the demographic that visits a site, the words on the page, or some background tracking of where you go online in the form of behavioral targeting.

What I don't understand is, if Yahoo, Google, etc. allow me to choose whether my home page features baseball, bossa nova or bassinets, why won't they let me choose the types of ads that I am subjected to?

We all get it, free content means subjecting ourselves to ads, so instead of using algorithms or covert tracking to guess what the heck we care about, why not just ask us up front, and serve ads accordingly? Consumers and advertisers would both benefit from personalized ad serving.

It's a simple idea-- for the privilege of reading content you fill out a form to rank the types of products that are most frequently advertised on the site. So you explicity say that you are more interested in movies or clothing than travel or automotive products. That data is made available as part of your profile, which the adserver checks before sending you an ad. You still get a variety of ads, but skewed toward your interests. This may require some additional work on the networks' behalf in managing inventory, but it is possible. And maybe every few months as new advertisers get on board you are asked to fill out the rankings again.

For example, I would be happy to see ads for independent films or baby furniture, but I currently see them almost never during my online travels. This will greatly increase the click-through ratios and lead to more reader satisfaction. Wouldn't you rather be asked straight up rather than a guess based on covert operations?

Most importantly, the preference data should also be collected anonymously and accessible by any ad server. Or am I wrong?

My Own Private WebTwoOh By John Gartner at 03:03 PM
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Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Tracking RSS a Work in Progress

RSS and blog marketing company Pheedo says the optimal method of producing click-throughs on RSS ads is to intersperse one ad per two pieces of content. Pheedo's research also says that embedding ads within content is bad idea performance-wise (as well as in keeping readers happy).

Pheedo also released an analytics tool that makes it easier for customers using its advertising solution to track RSS feed performance. This is a positive step, but the real problem for bloggers is figuring out how many people have signed up for RSS feeds and how much the subscriptions contribute to the overall traffic.

For those who own their own domains and blogging system and have access to the log files, tracking RSS feeds can be done, but for the majority of folks whose blogs are hosted by sites like Blogger don't provide the stats. You could use a third-party feed site such as Pheedo or FeedBurner, but that gives them the page ranking benefit.

Also, people sign up for feeds through an amalgam of web-based or software-based RSS readers, which further confounds finding out where people signed up. A single method of registering and tracking RSS feeds that is accessible to all bloggers and readers would help us learn about and profit from RSS feed subscriptions.

Tracking RSS a Work in Progress By John Gartner at 02:41 PM
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Book Publisher Counters Google

Sometimes the threat of subverting copyright protection is enough to prompt the content holders into action. Publisher HarperCollins' announcement this week that it would create a searchable digital archive is likely a response to retain control of content that Google, Microsoft and Amazon have all shown interest in making searchable.

Just as a few years ago making music available digitally through services such as Napster preceded the music publishers forging relationships to create download services. They were generally slow in embracing the concept and lost out on considerable revenue opportunities that have since resurfaced via iTunes.

Similarly, Google et al are ahead of book publishers in seeing the revenue potential of making books searchable online, so one way or the other, it will start to happen soon. The trove of information available online is increasing every day, but it pales in comparison to the collective intelligence of the printed word.

Finding a chapter from a book that is on point with a search query would prompt many book sales. Impulse sales completed online could open up the slowly emerging market for e-books or enable chapter based sales. Does 99 cents a pop sound familiar?

Book Publisher Counters Google By John Gartner at 01:49 PM
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Marketing to the Young and the Restless

MySpace is the current hot social network, but I'm not convinced it has staying power. The great BusinessWeek article about social networking points out that a year ago Friendster had similar traffic, but visits are down by an astonishing 95 percent. The same fate could befall MySpace when (inevitably) something better comes along.

Social networking sites centered around music are of great appeal to passionate youth, but their love for anything is often fast, furious, and fleeting. Sustaining membership and interest in clubs that are free to join and easy to leave is a challenge because tastes can change so quickly. Today's star is tomorrow's MTV guest on "Where are they now?"

While the young demographic is desirable to many marketers, it also is of limited value to others. For example, Allstate advertisers on MySpace, but what will the click through rate be if half of the audience members are either on their parent's policies or too young to drive? Marketers like to establish brand loyalty early, but one misstep in messaging could have them banned by the in crowd in a hurry.

These sites may also need to adopt commerce platforms that include credit card alternatives, such as PayPal, or a "points" system that starts off with cash, such as Microsoft is doing with Xbox Live. An innovate platform for buying stuff (prepaid cards?) and access to music libraries could have people buying, and not just talking about, music. (Perhaps Apple will absorb a social network or start its own.)

These sites will also have to continually recruit new members as their audience will eventually mature, change their musical tastes, and have families that will greatly reduce their free time to chit chat online.

Marketing to the Young and the Restless By Jason Dowdell at 09:32 AM
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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Yahoo Answers, But What Is the Question?

At first blush it's hard to pinpoint exactly what unique niche Yahoo is trying to fill. Yahoo Answers enables people to ask questions about "facts" or opinions and uses others to provide the answers, but its niche is hardly unique.

For facts, there are plenty of relatively trustworthy sources, including the recently maligned Wikipedia. For opinions, there are countless blogs and user groups that have dedicated followings and expertise on every subject imaginable. For the ability to query in everyday language, there's AskJeeves. And of course good old search can answer most questions.

I realize I'm rushing to judgment because Yahoo Answers just came out, but this service has to greatly evolve to gain enough of an audience to attract advertisers. The questions are listed from most recent backwards, but you should be able to filter by the most viewed or commented on (taking a page from social bookmarking sites).

Also, wouldn't it be more useful if there were recommended places where answers might be found? For example, if you want to find out about the aboriginal peoples of New Zealand, where might I look if the answers listed are incomplete?

A secondary listing of sites recommended by users would be expedient, for example, adding ratings to the Yahoo directory. And I'm expecting that an ad supported set of search results will be out in the near future.

Yahoo Answers, But What Is the Question? By John Gartner at 12:29 PM
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Google Adwords Rumor Confirmed

Google There has been a lot of speculation in various forums about the recent rumor that Google changed their algorithm that is responsible for the Quality Score and its affect on the PPC ads. The speculation has been that the landing page quality can effect the bid price for certain words and even get the keywords changed to an 'inactive' state. Well, I've gotten confirmation that the rumor is true and here is what Google had to say about it.

Your question about the rumor regarding your landing page being a factor in the overall Quality Score is true. Making sure that the landing page is relevant to your ad, and that it is easily navigable, helps to create a better user experience. For your convenience, I have enclosed a link with details about this for you: AdWords Site Guidelines

The goal is obviously to create a better user experience, more relevant ads help the user, advertiser and Google's stock price but some people believe that Google has crossed a boundary with this change and is doing it to milk advertisers. There is still an ongoing debate about how the changes are affecting accounts and what can be done to help counteract its affects. Even though some Adwords users have seen a positive change and some have seen an extremely negative change, I believe this is just another advocation for having your PPC campaign managed by a professional, who should be on top of changes like these in the future.

Google Adwords Rumor Confirmed By Evan Roberts at 10:43 AM
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Monday, December 12, 2005

MSNBC: We Cover News Too

MSNBC will have an advertising blitz this week, blanketing the blogosphere and the web with ads for its cable news shows.
The New York Times
says MSNBC will spend nearly $1 million this week promoting its talking heads including Keith Olberman and Joe Scarborough.

The article says MSNBC will advertise on 800 blogs, including Adrants, Daily Kos, IndieWire, and Talking Points Memo.

So a cable station (MSNBC) that is losing audiences to websites that do a better job of providing alternative perspective and breaking stories (Rathergate, Sony's DRM nightmare), is spending big bucks on those websites to remind people that their cable shows still exist.

Um, probably not going to work. If MSNBC wants to advertise online, they should advertise the great stuff on their website, which would lead a percentage of people to also watch their shows. The problem with that is their website doesn't stand up when compared to the sites on which they advertise. (Olberman's latest blog is about upside down Christmas trees -- wow!) When was the last time MSNBC's website had a scoop that reverberated around the blogosphere?

The mainstream press needs to get it through its collective thick head that online reporting needs to drive its websites growth, and not just regurgitate stuff that has already been on TV. Take it from someone (me) who has written extensively for print , (Tech)TV, and online, the tail should wag the dog.

A great story posted online in the morning could have a huge buzz by lunchtime and prompt more people to tune in by the evening. They could flesh out the story and add faces to breaking developments. Imagine if stories broken by the DailyKos or DrugeReport were covered in detail in prime time? People under 50 might actually start watching TV again.

Instead of spending $1 million in advertising, MSNBC would be better off hiring a few full-time bloggers and coming up with stories that cover important issues that are on the edge, not running tired stories about how Palm computers are used in school.

MSNBC: We Cover News Too By John Gartner at 01:33 PM
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Vlogs Crossover to TV

The blurring between TV and Internet content that started with ABC (remember the ill-fated show highlighting the funniest Web programming?) and continued with is intensifying. While most of the news has been about TV programs making downloads of their content available, now video logs are being made available on the small screen.

According to The New York Times, popular Vlog RocketBoom has signed a deal to make its videos available through TiVo.

The two companies will split the ad revenue as part of the deal, which legitimizes how Internet content can find an audience and be supported through advertising. If you are producing quality content -- whether its via blog, podcast, or vlog -- there will be ways to monetize it.

The next step will be to hook up vlog creation tools such as VideoEgg or Serious Magic or vlog directories with an automatic video ad insertion technology, similar to the platforms used by radio stations to make money from their webcasts.

TiVo, Microsoft, and yes, Google, will be duking it out to create services that integrate the best of TV and Internet content. Who will have the best search algorithms as well as tools that match online and broadcast content with an individual's taste? The competition is just starting.

Vlogs Crossover to TV By Jason Dowdell at 10:51 AM
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« December 2005 Week 1 December 2005 Week 3 »

  • Week 1 (17 entries) December 1-10
  • Week 2 (10 entries) December 11-17
  • Week 3 (9 entries) December 18-24
  • Week 4 (3 entries) December 25-31

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