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February 2006 Marketing Archives

Friday, February 03, 2006

Calling All Clicks

One of the biggest shifts in marketing today and for the foreseeable future is the introduction of technologies that make it much easier and less expensive to talk to customers. VOIP is dramatically reducing the cost of local and long distance calling, while click-to-call technologies will integrate voice with web marketing.

This week Voxeo released a platform that marries VOIP, interactive voice response (IVR) and click-to-call. The Prophecy application automatically initiates a phone call from the merchant when customers click on a "talk live" button.

Voxeo includes both speech recognition and speech synthesis software, and is based on XML standards, including Voice XML and Call Control Extensible Markup Language (CCXML).

Click-to-call enables customers who want or need to talk to someone to complete a transaction to receive an instantaneous call, which greatly increases conversion rates.

Resident rumor-meister Jason tells me he's heard rumblings that one of the big three search engines is using Voxeo's technology for click to call.

Calling All Clicks By John Gartner at 02:23 PM
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Worshippers Turn to Godcasts

If downloadable audio is good enough to spread the music of metal band The Almighty, then surely it's a proper medium to spread the word of The Almighty.

Religions of all stripe have put faith in the ability of the digital word to connect with fellow members through Godcasts. Christians can hear weekly sermons, Jews can listen to daily readings from the Torah, Buddhists can hear reflective teachings, and the Islamicast provide Quranic recitation.

Godcasting is just another example of how audio is resurging as a marketing tool. Listening to audio has the advantage over reading because it is a passive activity that can be done while exercising, traveling, or while "working." I'm guessing that listening to audio replaces a bit of the reading that we do, but primarily it supplants broadcast radio and creates new advertising inventory when directed towards individuals who aren't inclined to pay for content.

It amazes me that downloadable audio has been around in quantity for more than a decade, but the buzz around one device has greatly expanded interest. Bless you, iPod.

Worshippers Turn to Godcasts By John Gartner at 11:59 AM
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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Lycos Not Dead Yet

When the Internet economy was booming, Lycos was a solid #4 in the portal race behind Yahoo, MSN, and Excite, and for a time its stock rode the bubble. (This was before Google, and AOL was still a walled garden). That was then, and the now is that Lycos is limping along, never mentioned in the same breath as the big boys.

Lycos is in the news these days because today it sold off subsidiary finance site for $30 million, six plus years after acquiring it for $78 million. Not exactly the ROI that makes investors happy. Lycos says didn't match its current focus, which is on "digital content creation, as a destination for people to create, store and market content." Lycos also signed a deal this week to switch to myGeeks ad network.

Lycos owns blog site, web hosting site, and social networking site Lycos Planet, so I can see where stock quotes don't fit. The company will also expand its games, music and entertainment sites.

Lycos itself has been acquired twice, by Terra Networks in 2000 (for a cool $12.5 billion), but then sold four years later to Korean company Daum Communications for less than one percent of that ($95 million).

So is Lycos looking to be acquired by someone looking to cash in on the youth market that is currently being aggressively pursued by MySpace, Facebook and others? Or is it looking to sell off more properties (such as Wired News, where I used to hang my hat and still contribute the occasional article?)

The recent acquisition of MySpace, interest in Gawker, and loosening of VC purse strings indicates that investors are starting to support web properties, suggesting another run-up may be in the wings. But before getting all happy about the possibilities of Flickr, and others, learn the lessons of Lycos well.

Lycos Not Dead Yet By John Gartner at 08:00 PM
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How old are you now?

A little insider information:

Tomorrow is Jason's birthday and I thought I would shamelessly plug his wishlists, so here you go...

really he didn't ask me to do this...really

How old are you now? By shannon dowdell at 02:48 PM
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Newspaper Empire Strikes Back

Old media has gotten off its lofty perch and is responding to online media's usurpation of some of its audience. The smart publishers are developing new ways of distributing content, while the geezers are fighting in court.

The World Association of Newspapers is upset about news aggregation sites using headlines, summaries and photos without permission, and the Agency France Presse sued Google over its news site's use of newspaper content.

But these newspaper groups are getting this wrong. News aggregators are acting like the newsstands and paper boxes that are prominently placed on city sidewalks everywhere that hope to entice readers by displaying the headlines. Fair use is taking a headline or summary and linking to the original content, and I'm guessing that the publisher's log files show that they are getting a considerable amount of their traffic from portal site links.

To add to the hypocrisy, every day newspaper writers including the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz frequently reprint paragraphs from other papers in their columns on media criticism. Talk about a double standard.

The more progressive (aka sane) publishers are exploring all of the options for distributing their content, and are forming alliances to maximize their exposure.

From now on, no media outlet is an island. People want to read, hear, and watch the news, and media companies should have a finger in each pie so that they can maximize their ad revenue. So building websites that combine content from TV and print news (ala the wonderful Sfgate), and producing RSS feeds and podcasts will build the brand as a trusted authority, therefore encouraging people to subscribe or pick a paper off the rack.

As all surfers know, you can't stop the waves from coming, but you can learn to ride them.

Newspaper Empire Strikes Back By John Gartner at 01:00 PM
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Ellison: The Oracle of Defy

Oracle founder Larry Ellison is truly a remarkable man. Spending money (as in billons of dollars) nearly fast as you make it is a unique talent.

Ellison's compulsory spending on yachts, villas, etc has come under scrutiny because he is involved in a shareholder lawsuit about a sale of stock in 2001 just ahead of bad earnings news.

Larry's cash burn rate is similar to that of many execs who eventually got into trouble for illegally tapping into company resources after the stock plummeted. That's not as likely to happen with Oracle, but his excess is consistent with the trend of company leaders receiving compensation that puts them out of touch with their workers and society as a whole.

Maybe, just maybe, someday the public will become so tired of the flaunting of ridiculous wealth, golden parachutes and excessive bonuses, that the practice will change. If I were a shareholder or worker, I'd want to know that the board of directors will limit executive compensation. Perhaps promoting that everyone benefits from corporate actions will become a marketing tool to persuade customers an investors that a company is worthwhile.

Ellison: The Oracle of Defy By Jason Dowdell at 03:27 PM
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Pheedo Pheeds Ads Into RSS

RSS technology company Pheedo has developed an ad format for enclosing ads in RSS feeds that could open the door for the extensive use of RSS-based advertising.

Pheedo announced the new format in conjunction with PRWeb, which will intersperse ads with its press release RSS feeds. The contextual ads will find ads related to the feed's content. PRWeb will also distribute skyscraper ads that contain several press release headlines.

The ads can be injected into individual blog postings or as stand alone items as part of a feed, according to Bill Flitter, VP of Pheedo. He says stand alone ads have a 7 percent click through rate. Publishers can determine their ratio of content to ads in a feed, with 2-3 pieces of content per ad an appropriate mix. PRWeb has people review the ads to make sure they match the feed content, according to Flitter.

RSS ads using Pheedo's technology are currently being used by several publishers including

RSS ads opens another door for bloggers and other publishers to subsidize their content creation efforts. Soon or later the portals and blog sites will introduce ads into their feeds and greatly increase the visibility of the technology.

Pheedo Pheeds Ads Into RSS By John Gartner at 03:01 PM
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February 2006 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (7 entries) February 1-4
  • Week 2 (13 entries) February 5-11
  • Week 3 (21 entries) February 12-18
  • Week 4 (18 entries) February 19-25
  • Week 5 (2 entries) February 26-28

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