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April 2006 Marketing Archives

Friday, April 07, 2006

Advergaming a Brand New Challenge

TV's greatest competition for ad dollars isn't coming from web publishers, but from Xbox and casual games. Advergaming is spreading faster than the bird flu as gamers are using product placement and even designing entire games around a product.

It's related to viral marketing as advertisements as entertainment (sort of like baseball's falling home run records being a big ad for the effectiveness of steroids).

When done well, advertainment makes it much tougher for the attention of consumers to be drawn towards blah-blah-blah static ads. This will result in more outrageous campaigns on billboards and banners because otherwise, we'll just click right past. The creative community is going to be in demand more than ever.

Advergaming a Brand New Challenge By John Gartner at 12:36 PM
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Apple's Windows to Mac Marketing Fatally Flawed

Yesterday a good friend asked me for my thoughts on the Apple marketing campaign to lure Windows users to the Mac Side because Mac's can now run Windows. I'm posting his questions here so you can discuss amongst yourselves. Very interesting points though, I think Mac is gonna have some splaining to do.
"1.) Apple's annoncement of Windows OS running on Apple hardware must result, very quickly, in an Apple marketing strategy to wean people from Windows and move them to the Mac OS. Otherwise, Apple users will find themselves wondering why they pay so much for Mac hardware that just runs Windows.

2.) Another inevitable problem is that software developers will stop porting their applications to the Apple operating system. After all, if they can run in a sub-window on the Mac, why bother with the expense?"

Apple's Windows to Mac Marketing Fatally Flawed By Jason Dowdell at 12:30 PM
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Search for Tomorrow (and Beyond)

The demand for specialized search is strong and going to get stronger, according to this analysis by MarketWatch's Bambi Francisco.

VCs are opening their wallets like the good old days (of pre-crash 2000), and many big media companies want search to be part of their portfolio. Like me, Bambi is bullish on the prospects of video search.

I agree that search is going to get more fragmented, unless Google can figure out a way to automatically guess which specialized search function we want. We have different needs during different times of the day for entertainment, music and food, and search is no different. The challenge is to offer the widest variety of choice with the least amount of user input while generating the most exacting results; a tall order that today's search technology can't handle.

Search for Tomorrow (and Beyond) By John Gartner at 12:11 PM
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PPC Round-Up: Google Adwords Price Increase, Lawsuits and New Yahoo Beta,

Google Adwords has expanded the availability of promotional credits to 6 new countries: Australia, Canada, Israel, Poland, South Korea, and Turkey.

Something fishy is going on with Google Adwords. Users over at WebMasterWorld are reporting large unusual jumps in CPCs. According to SEOroundTable: "Keyword price inflation examples posted include $0.05 to $5.00, $1.00 to $5 - $10, $0.51 to minimum $6.24, $0.17 to $5.00, and so on. These price increases were noticed overnight by many people, so it does not seem to be a slow, long term change that went from $0.05, to $0.25 to $0.50 to $1 and so on, but rather $0.05 to $5.00 overnight."
I would assume Google will put out a statement about a change in their mysterious Quality Score algorithm shortly.

SEORT is reporting on another WMW thread that Google is wooing adwords clients away from PPC management firms in Israel.

Jeff Martin, a mod on the SEW forums :), is reporting that a Chinese Adwords Advertiser is sueing google for click fraud. The thread has a link to an article in Chinese, but loosely translated states: "Mr. Huang, who has been using Adwords since 2004, normally pays 158 RMB per month. However, on 1/26/06, his Adwords charges suddenly run up to 8,000 RMB." He asked Google, via a letter he wrote, to investigate but they responded with the usual everything looks fine.

I reported back in December that Yahoo was going to making major changes and will be moving to a Google-type model that included a relevancy rating. Well, Forbes is reporting that Yahoo is finally rolling out their beta version called 'Project Panama'

And to conclude what seems to be a Google-Round-up
Google opens up Adwords Editor beta. Adwords Editor is a program you can download and run on your desktop which will interface with Adwords. Its rough but still has good uses.

PPC Round-Up: Google Adwords Price Increase, Lawsuits and New Yahoo Beta, By Jason Dowdell at 10:20 AM
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iPod Killed The Radio Stars

After reading the recent article in Wired concerning the decline in listeners actually tuning in to broadcasts during NPR's semi-annual begging extravaganza, the prospect of losing acual radio talent began to worry me.

In an effort to avoid the annoyance of frequent interruptions during their favorite NPR programs, listeners have been loading up their iPods with shows to get them through this trying time.

The problem is; with no one to listen to the pleas for donations, there won't be any donations. No money, no programs. This leads to a unique problem affecting radio stations across the country. How do you sell advertising when listeners have found a way to bypass advertisements.

So, without the cash to fund worthwhile radio programming, where will all the talent go?

Owners of XM and Sirius - please stop smirking.

iPod Killed The Radio Stars By Brent Brandow at 08:57 AM
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Thursday, April 06, 2006

Blog Tool Integrates Ads

Qumana has updated its blog tool to automatically insert keyword-specific ads. The free download enables offline blog editing and generates blog entries for blog sites Tripod, Angelfire (whose blog tools are weak) and MSN Spaces.

Qumana can post entries to multiple blogs and edit old entries created by other blog tools. The ads are produced by Qumana's Q-Ads network, and the revenue is shared between the blogger and the company.

Since this tool seems to be a splogger's delight, I hope Qumana has some quality control in place to make sure that it's not used to further befoul the blogosphere.

If anyone has already played around with Qumana, let us know. I'll be kicking the tires on it soon.

Blog Tool Integrates Ads By John Gartner at 08:40 PM
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Active Ads Can Inflate CTR

Ads that slide, jump, and expand across the content are effective at garnering attention, but as Pesach Lattin points out, they need to be carefully crafted.

These types of ads can transparently encompass large areas of the screen, so clicks meant to get to the content can generate spurious click-throughs. Maybe some advertisers only care about their brand's visibility and don't mind paying for clicks from people who aren't really interested, but I bet most would.

Other mistakes in implementation of these ads including not providing an obvious method of closing the window, or having the script run for more than 3 seconds. These things only get readers frustrated at the publisher and the advertiser, as more than once I've jumped to another website rather than wait for the ad to finish.

I would think that using sound to supplement these ads could capture the readers attention even after the ads shrink into their box or skyscraper home. A short audio cue when readers mouse over the ad might be just enough to prompt a genuine click.

Active Ads Can Inflate CTR By John Gartner at 12:57 PM
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LinkedIn Profitable - Is Social Networking A Business Model?




Social Networking Site LinkedIn Has First Profitable Month

Konstantin tells me that March was the first profitale month for LinkedIn, the social networking giant. At first pass this may not sound like a big deal, after all it doesn't mean the company is profitable across the board, we're just talking about one month here. But there are some interesting observations to be made based on this event.

One of the most obvious questions is, Can social networking sites make it if their business model is just that? Personally I don't believe social networking is a business model, there has to be a reason for birds to flock together. The saying goes like this "birds of a feather flock together". The key words here aren't birds or together, the key phrase is, "of a feather". People need a reason to connect to other people and I believe this is one of the main reasons LinkedIn is beginning to hit it's stride in the social networking world. They've found reasons for people to join and find other like-minded individuals. Konstantin does a good job of breaking it down in his email to me so I'll let him take it from here.
"...Our average subscription is $200-300 per person per year (range is $60 to $2,000 per year). I think it proves that social networks are valuable to some people . . . or, hold that, I think it's *business" networks. Of course, the social network have plenty of opportunities to drive revenue via page views.

The people paying up at the $2,000 per year level are primary recruiters, investment bankers and management consultants. They may not generate many page views, but if they run three searches, find eight good people, contact four and hear back from four, that can yield unique information on a multi-million dollar investment or result in a $30,000 placement fee.

At the $200/year level, it's a pretty broad mix of people--mostly around business intelligence, sales, market research, bus dev, etc. The $60/year level is bought primarily by people who want to be found, like professional service providers, job seekers and networkers.

As for this year, I believe in the next 3 to 6 months, people search is going to emerge as a major search "vertical." There will be competition for where people go to look up people (e.g. Google, Ziggs or LinkedIn) and also for where people publish their profile (e.g. GoogleBase, Ziggs or LinkedIn).

We now allow people to search LinkedIn even if you are not a member, so it is much more like a search engine (you can see it by logging out). Also, we are enabling users to publish their LinkedIn profile to the Web (inlcuding a customized URL): https://www.linkedin.com/profile?editwp=..."
LinkedIn has also given people the ability to find their classmates online and I think that's a big factor contributing to the rise in their subscription revenues as well.

I smell social networking mashups fast approaching.

LinkedIn Profitable - Is Social Networking A Business Model? By Jason Dowdell at 10:28 AM
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Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Video Search Adds MTV

Video search is moving from newborn to its teething phase. The algorithms and depth of content still leave something to be desired, but at least the interaction is getting more intelligent.

Blinkx.com, which has the deepest pool of authorized content (no offense YouTube) signed a deal with MTV to get access to videos from its reality shows, music videos, and most importantly, Comedy Central. The interface tweaks are helping to making Google Video's search seem like someone's last-minute homework assignment.

Pixsy.com launched a new version of its video/image search engine. While there isn't as much video content, the image search results are displayed at the same time through a very slick Ajax interface. At the rate video search is improving, I wouldn't be surprised if it generates more money than podcasting in 2007.

Video Search Adds MTV By John Gartner at 01:57 PM
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Google Base's Vertical Evolution

The evolution of Google Base has definitely progressed from the stage of "Searchis Betas" to "Classifiedis Verticalus". With the "discovery" of Google's real estate vertical, it's officially game on with craigslist and the classifieds business.

The vertical searches for real estate, recipes, event tickets, jobs, podcasts, vehicles, etc, can be broken down by location, with Google Maps plotting the results. The granularity from voluntary tagging will likely make Google Base a more streamlined search than from Google or classified sites. For example, real estate can be broken down by price range and type of house, events by venue, and cars by make and model.

This will lead to a new strain of SEO focused specifically for Google Base. For example, if you search "movie reviews Solaris" under Base and reg'lar Google, you get a different set of results. So how best do you optimize?

Yes, vertical search engines and classfieds such as craigslist will continue to exist, but the tagging feature makes Base more competitive in a hurry.

BTW, can someone do a mash-up where one search will generate results from Google, Base, and Directory, in parallel?

Google Base's Vertical Evolution By Jason Dowdell at 11:35 AM
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PPC Round-Up: Google Position Preference, Yahoo SpyWare Ads and $20

I posted a link to a report yesterday that had rumors of Google putting out bid management software for Adwords but while we wait for that to come to fruition Adwords has given us 'Positioning Preference Bidding'. A lot of people are mistaking this for a bid-to-position model like Yahoo uses. When it is merely just a position filter.

For example if your metrics indicate that your best profitability is at position #3 for a given keyword (X), then you set the position preference to #3 for this keyword. You still have to maintain the proper 'Quality Score' and maxCPC but your ad will only show when it fits the requirements for the #3 position.

You can read more about 'Position Preference' on the original SEW post and see my response here
Yahoo Search Network? No. Yahoo Content Network? Nope. It's the Yahoo Spyware Network! Ben Edelman uncovers how some spyware programs have Yahoo Search Marketing ads in them, and auto click on them, without the user's knowledge. There is a WWW forum thread which Ben is participating in here

The official Adwords blog continued their 2 part series are targeting the right customers.

Indirectly related to PPC, the official Adsense blog posted an annoucement that advertisers will get $20 for everyone they refer to Adsense. Which in turn means, more people will have put Adsense on their site, and probably click on their own ads costing us advertisers money. Just one reason not to use the content network.

PPC Round-Up: Google Position Preference, Yahoo SpyWare Ads and $20 By Evan Roberts at 10:28 AM
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Google Real Estate "Discovered"

Congrats to the bloggers who have discovered Google Real Estate. In other news; WE LANDED ON THE MOON! Apologies to Lloyd Christmas.

While the existence of the tool is certainly not a surprise to anyone, it is intersting to see the actual product.

While Google continues the testing of real estate and auto search sites built on Google Base and Google Maps, real estate startups have to be concerned about surviving Google's foray into real estate.

Equally unsurprising is the exclusion of the Google Base logo from both Maps and Real Estate Search, pointing to the launch of Google entities separate from Google Base.

Google Real Estate "Discovered" By Jason Dowdell at 09:35 AM
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Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Marketing Ploy Turns on Owner

The folks in Chevrolet's marketing department decided to riff on The Apprentice by giving a prize to a webizen who creates the best commercial for the new Tahoe SUV on its website.

But the company probably didn't expect that many folks with anti-SUV fever would use the online tools to create disparaging ads that trash the vehicle for trashing the environment, and that the negative ads would get lots of press.

Ah, the travails of not being careful when facilitating user-generated. Here's a link to some of the dissenting voices.

Marketing Ploy Turns on Owner By Jason Dowdell at 06:39 PM
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Gray-Hairs to Get Online Space

Looking to cash in on the MySpace hysteria, book and music company Bertelsmann is planning on a community website for older folks.

"People are getting older...and older people are getting lonelier and they will need communities where they can share their interests" Chief Executive Gunter Thielen told Reuters.

"Thielen said Bertelsmann had been studying the demographic trends of the Western world, which point to a future with aging populations, many of them likely to have no or few children and larger disposable incomes than before."

What a great demographic, sad saggy spendy seniors who chat online because their kids are too busy to call them. Maybe the site will provide a service where people pretend to listen to them over VOIP for a few dollars a month.

So Bertelsmann wants to build senior centers around its Random House and Sony BMG music clubs. There could be a discussion area called "Wheezer" but it wouldn't be about music.

Here are some possible names:

LookAtMyGrandkids.com
LotteryNumbersSure2Win.com
WhatTheHeckWasMyPassword.com
ThatRayRomanoIsFunny.com

Gray-Hairs to Get Online Space By Jason Dowdell at 12:14 PM
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Jim Schoonmaker SuperTour CEO / MIT Graduate

Last Friday I had the opportunity to speak with the CEO of SuperTour Jim Schoonmaker. Jim gave me a guided tour, pun intended, through the Super Tour website as well as a good lesson in strategy every entrepreneur should know.

Jim Schoonmaker's Background
Well first off he's an MIT business school grad (Sloan School of Management), not too shabby. He's a self-confessed serial entrepreneur and Super Tour (Mok3 Inc.) is his latest effort. Jim's got a solid understanding of business. Let me expand on that a bit. He was most recently the President / CEO of Liquid Machines. Prior to that he was President / Founder of NerveWire. Prior to that he was the President / Founder of Intersense Incorporated. Rather than going through what each of the companies did I'll let you guys dig a bit for yourself and give you a golden nugget I picked up from my conversation with Jim.

Revenue Per Square Foot
This single statement symbolizes so many different variables that it's almost impossible to explain in a post or in any form of text. I had asked Jim about why SuperTour had decided to start their local hotel and area virtual tours in Miami and Las Vegas. When he began explaining how they arrived at those major metropolitan areas he summed the next 10 minutes up in a single phrase. Revenue per square foot, and I instantly got it.

What he meant was that he knew his company's business model would initially revolve around providing the best virtual tours of a location. But in order to monetize their service as quickly as possible they had to decide which locations & what property types would enable them to do so. They realized hotels account for a huge amount of revenue per square foot and then they just had to figure out which areas in the US had the highest density of hotel rooms per square foot... The answer was Miami and Las Vegas.

Instead of going into details about the conversation I'll follow up this post, later in the week, with a Q & A of Jim Schoonmaker. Lest I get excited and exaggerate the facts. I'll also expand on exactly what they do and how they plan on making money in the Q & A so Stay Tuned!

Jim Schoonmaker SuperTour CEO / MIT Graduate By Jason Dowdell at 11:23 AM
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Paid Search Round-Up

The Google Analytics team has officially opened Conversion University, where they provide eight strategy articles on increasing conversion rates for paid search. I've only skimmed them, but they seem useful enough where they deserve at least a once over.

SEOmoz.org has an interesting article on click fraud, Is click Fraud Really that bad? (Part 1). Its the first of a click fraud series that explores the ins and outs of the different types of click fraud.

*edit* as I posted this, SEOmoz just posted part 2

The official adwords blog talks about the importance of targeting the right customers. This is something that is important to a successful PPC campaign and everyone should consider, especially with more of the major search engines following MSN's lead regarding demo-graphic targeting.

SEORoundTable is reporting that Google will introduce bid management software for its Adwords Advertisers. The bid management software will replace, to some extent, tools such as Atlas OnePoint, KeywordMax, BidRank, and BidHero. They also found supporting evidence in a WebMasterWorld thread. It is not stated if this will be part of the Adwords Editor or some other application. I'd guess it would be free for a limited beta, get too many users, become unstable and then close off sign-ups for an undisclosed amount of time. The usual Google dance.

PS- One of the major search engines will be adding demographic targeting functionality to their management console soon. For now, I'll let you guess as to which engine it is.

Paid Search Round-Up By Jason Dowdell at 10:12 AM
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Monday, April 03, 2006

TiVo Vs. The Clones

I mentioned TiVo off-handedly today, and shortly thereafter I am emailed an article from the Detroit News about how Comcast is pondering competiting with DVRs, so it must be worth writing about again.

Comcast believes it can make money by allowing subscribers to save programs on its network instead of on DVRs in their homes. Network DVRs make sense because the cable co's save on installing hardware that can break and require service, and also it gives Comcast another chance to market pay-for content.

This imperils TiVo's already shaky existence. To answer the anonymous poster, TiVo's service is marginally easier to use and more flexible than the DVRs from the cable companies that are cheaper.

Sooo, I suggested that a free service would be a way to undercut the clones and broaden the audience. Then, once customers are hooked and tire of ads, they can upgrade to an ad-free service. If you already have a DVR, you may not want to swap it for an ad-supported freebie, but if like most Americans you don't have one, then trying it out for free makes sense.

TiVo Vs. The Clones By John Gartner at 02:38 PM
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How to Use Users

How to Use Users

Mobile software maker Handmark is acting on the belief that users are the best advocates of a new product, so the company will give away a Porsche to a customer who spreads the word about its products.

The company makes Pocket Express, a mobile phone download that delivers news and content. Handmark is giving away the basic version of the software in hopes that users will become hooked and upgrade to its pay-for services.

Folks who get a friend to sign up for the software get a chance to win a 2007 Porsche Cayman S, so the more you pass the word along, the better your chances.

This version of viral marketing isn't as desirable as when customers are self-motivated to rave about something new, but giving away the product for free shows great faith in a product that will become irreplaceable.

I'd bet a million bucks (if I had it) that if TiVo gave away its boxes along with 6 months of free service, that they would be able to get half of all TV watchers to subscribe. They could defray most of the cost by showing 15 second ads before each time you watch a recorded program and by selling the viewing data.

How to Use Users By John Gartner at 12:30 PM
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Earthlink's Mind Numbing Marketing

Sometimes (as with zombies)it's better to let things that are dead stay dead. EarthLink decided to unearth the name of a 90's ISP to roll out a new voice-over-IP service.

Yes, nothing says hip Skype/GoogleTalk competitor like the word "MindSpring." If the name wasn't good enough to keep around after you bought the last century, it sure ain't good enough to use to attract a new generation of Net savvy users.

Perhaps Earthlink will have an ad campaign using Clara Peller and Mr. T talking on their PC's.

Nostalgia may work for lining the walls and ceilings of Friday's restaurants, but not for promoting emerging technologies.

Earthlink's Mind Numbing Marketing By Jason Dowdell at 11:52 AM
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April 2006 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (19 entries) April 1-8
  • Week 2 (20 entries) April 9-15
  • Week 3 (18 entries) April 16-22
  • Week 4 (17 entries) April 23-29
  • Week 5 (0 entries) April 30-30

your marketing sucks the new malibu commerchal sou...
by burldog44
2000% ++++ increase in my Yahoo keyword per click ...
by Dave
google does not care about small business. Their s...
by Robert Greene