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June 2006 Marketing Archives

Friday, June 09, 2006

DVRs and RSS Need to Get Hitched

Here it is - the marriage that's even more important than Brangelina nuptials - what I call DVRSS.

TiVo is cherry picking online content from Rocketboom, CNet, iVillage and others with its new TiVoCast service.

That service just whets the appetite for a true best of the Web/TV service. Netizens used to surfing the gamut of content would love an RSS reader built into the DVR that lets you subscribe online, and watch from the living room. Instead of watching your favorite vlogs and YouTube shows or listening to Podcasts on your multimedia challenged PC, you could enjoy it all on the big screen and stereo.

Advertisements would pay for the web-based content, bringing money to online entrepreneurs, and ability to view feeds would make DVRs even more indispensable. Someone somewhere will build this service.

DVRs and RSS Need to Get Hitched By John Gartner at 02:43 PM
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Google, Your TV Watching Pal

Google scientists are developing software that will listen to your TV and deliver relevant websites and ads based on the program.

Now call me cynical, but this concept, as outlined by Information Week is just plain stupid.

Having your laptop listen to the TV or radio broadcast (and any ambient sounds in your house/office) and match ads is a step backwards technologically. Capturing sound from across the room would be a technical nightmare, and the privacy concerns are plenty.

Marrying web content to broadcasts will happen (see below), but using the cable box or broadband video stream to know what is on air are much more elegant solutions. The article points out that Microsoft has advantages in IPTV, but Google shouldn't be afraid of direct competition.

What's next, behavioral marketing based on pictures captured by your mobile phone?

This idea will go nowhere fast with consumers.

Google, Your TV Watching Pal By Jason Dowdell at 02:01 PM
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Online May Win Interactive TV

For 10 years interactive TV has been on the periphery of digital information/entertainment integration, and its about time it was brought into the mainstream.

The TV networks are losing ad dollars by the millions to online, so they need to partner with advertisers on technologies that will enable volumes of couch commerce. Watch and buy, that's been one of the promises of WebTV, and it still a teeny tiny niche today.

If they don't broadband video will be married with services like Instant Media's I'M to encourage even more hours on the PC instead of the TV. According to the company, I'M "enables interactive HTML-programmed, time-synchronized sidebar displays to accompany any advertisement, as specified by the content producer – allowing the sidebar to be turned on or off during the course of the show."

This sounds a lot like what Microsoft, Intel, and dozens of startups that have come an gone during the past decade promised.

Found via Adotas.

Online May Win Interactive TV By John Gartner at 01:24 PM
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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Blocking Craigslist for Fun and Profit

According to SiliconValleyWatcher, Cox Communications is blocking its users access to Craigslist to protect its classifieds revenue.

Cox claims it is a technical glitch, but 100 days is more than enough to figure out how to white list a website. The article says this is a net neutrality issue, but I disagree. It has nothing to do with the speed of the Internet connection, it's an anti-competitive issue that should be regulated by the FTC and FCC.

Any company that offers Internet access must provide unfettered access to all websites, regardless of whom their partners are (just as browser software shouldn't discriminate). Substantial penalties should be handed out for blocking or slowing access to any sites, and the existing rules need to be vigorously enforced.

If ISPs start prejudicially delivering content, it will spiral into segments that reduces choice and lowers the potential earnings of all marketers.

Blocking Craigslist for Fun and Profit By John Gartner at 06:54 PM
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Wednesday, June 07, 2006

AOL Adds Ads to E-mail

For the first time AOL is marketing to paying customers inside of their e-mails. The company is following in the footsteps of free services such as Google Gmail and Hotmail in inserting ads, but it is unusual for a pay-for service.

AOL says customers don't mind, and that may be true since most of their users aren't motivated enough to browse the web outside the AOL environment or try more sophisticated software. AOL has chosen not to use context-sensitive advertising, but if the company is smart, it will at least base the ads on the demographic information collected from customers.

Pay for ad-supported services can succeed (see cable TV), but it is a fine line to walk. If the ad revenue enables AOL to lower its subscription fees it would be well received by consumers.

Found via PCWorld.

AOL Adds Ads to E-mail By John Gartner at 01:39 PM
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Instant Messaging Marketing

Startup company eWayDirect is offering a marketing service that sends alerts via instant messaging. Good luck, but getting consumers to download an application in this era of worms, viruses, and privacy concerns will be a challenge.

While this service does avoid spam filters, only time-sensitive sales, such as real estate or travel are apropos for instant alerts. I doubt that most people will really want their day interrupted with alerts about books going on sale or saving a few bucks on pizza.

However, watch for eBay to push out new auction alert services via Skype and Yahoo's IM where people could make their purchases using their PayPal accounts.

RSS is a better choice than IM marketing because it also avoids spam filters and doesn't require downloading a separate application.

Found via Adotas.

Instant Messaging Marketing By John Gartner at 12:54 PM
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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Google Adds Spreadsheets

Google today announced it is beta testing a free online spreadsheet program that will read Excel files. Talk about hitting Mr. Gates where he lives.

Google wants access to the data stored on documents of every flavor, so the company is releasing office applications (Writely was the first) that can be used to share docs online. Business users aren't about to post their information on Google's servers, but for consumers who don't want to fork over the big bucks for Microsoft Office, it is an attractive option.

The application enables you to specify who can see your work, and includes a chat feature so that you can collaborate while you work. You can also save files locally if you don't care to have Google storing your docs.

Although it won't happen, a funny payback would be to have its spreadsheets only work with Firefox or Apple's Safari browser, and not IE.

Since MS Office is 27 percent of Microsoft's revenue, you can expect the company to respond in kind (Hello, is this the legal department?). You don't get into Bill's kitchen without expecting a payback.

Google's efforts are disconcerting to most of the software industry, which will have a difficult time transferring to the ad-based model. This will probably do more to prompt Microsoft into action than it will for Google's bottom line.

Found via the Mercury News.

Google Adds Spreadsheets By John Gartner at 08:23 PM
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Local Wikis Will Win

Wikis -- those democratically created encyclopedias -- are a perfect match for niche publishers to aggregate expertise in a given universe while generating advertising revenue. And local wikis will be the next big thing.

Now that many of the top players are in the Wiki biz (per Marketwatch), the collaborative tool will grow in popularity both as a corporate research tool, and as a specialty search engine.

One of the greatest potential opportunities for wikis are regional sites. Imagine having an unbiased site about visiting and living in cities, designed and maintained by the people who know the area best. Passionate city-dwellers will be happy to rate and grouse about their favorite party spots and restaurants, as well as offering practical information about transportation or finding a roommate. I haven't seen many of these yet, with the exception of one for parks in Utah, but this is too good an idea to pass up. CitySearch, be very afraid.

Google, Yahoo, and even eBay will offer wikis, and this will create ample ad inventory. I would expect that with its years of database expertise, Microsoft will offer both corporate and public wiki tools soon.

Because wikis focus on a specific hobby or industry, the ads can be targeted to like-minded individuals and should have higher click through rates than ads on generic sites. The social and user-generated nature of wikis should increase consumer confidence. However, if advertisers don't live up to their promises, they will hear about it loud and strong from the communities who will want to protect the integrity of the sites.

Local Wikis Will Win By John Gartner at 01:41 PM
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Monday, June 05, 2006

Web 2.0: What Will Be Different

It was little more than a decade ago when the Internet and the economy took off, leading to an unparalleled era of creativity, communication, cash, and then collapse. The Web 2.0 era, as outlined by BusinessWeek, will be different than they go-go 90's in several key ways.

1. Open and collaborative, not proprietary and individual. Before Sun, Netscape, and Microsoft were elbowing each other (and various startups) trying to get us to sign onto their closed systems for building and managing the web, but today it's all about building applications on open standards that can access data from whomever whenever. The first web revolution was about what you the individual could do online (order a movie, manage your appointments, wahoo!), but now it's about what you as a member of a larger group (friends, work colleagues, peers, fellow enthusiasts) can do together. To be more effective in our social and work endeavors, Web 2.0 asks us to share what we know, and how we found it. Collaboration also requires talking to the world through blogs and getting the essential critical feedback directly from users, not consultants and study groups.

2. It's the services, stupid. Instead of claiming that the web will replace functions that you do now, Web 2.0 is enhancing the things you are already doing online. Things like Ajax, mashups, and RSS enable you to present, collect, and deliver the information that you want through more effective channels. It's not replacement, it's refining. And instead of "new" products that focused heavily on retail (see Pets.com, Peapod.com), what will fuel economic growth is more efficient use of existing services.

3. No more cart leading horse. In the 90's you could get $10 million in VC for an idea, and then try to design a business plan before the IPO or the money ran out. With Web 2.0, the emphasis is on creating something useful, letting the world kick the tires in beta, and then mold into a product and revenue stream after you have a sufficient user base. Then you try and cash in (see Skype) on your fancy-pants idea.

4. It's an ad, ad, ad world. Advertising will pay for much of the new technology and services. While companies will generate revenue by licensing uber versions of applications to corporations, the masses will acquiesce to watching or scrolling past a few more ads so that they can email or talk for free. How to stand out from the increased ad-density will require targeting the individual based on their associations and past experiences.

Web 2.0: What Will Be Different By John Gartner at 01:57 PM
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Corporate RSS to Aid Marketing

RSS may still be a mystery to many folks, but the "grown ups" in corporate are taking the utility of feeds seriously. Today's RSS feed choices - reader software, web-based apps, the next IE, Firefox extensions, and Yahoo news - are good for browsing small quantities of information, but a second generation of intelligent RSS tools will sift through the bulk of feeds to find the good stuff. The first generation of signing up for feeds and then manually reading one subscription at a time will be replaced by algorithms that sort through the bulk and find what is important. Soon the back office will provide workers with pre-filtered feeds that will organize data so that the most urgent information will be automatically passed to the desktops. As an example, Newsgator has an enterprise version of its reader software that delivers feeds to Outlook folders. Companies that are also in this arena also include Attensa and PubSub. Marketers who haven't set up feeds for their press releases, customer communications and corporate blogs need to get on board because more companies will recognize that RSS is more efficient than email and browsing, and will revamp their infrastructure accordingly. The reason is simple because RSS feeds are opt-in, they can't be spammed. Once corporate makes RSS as easy and ubiquitous as email, marketers will have to create feeds that people want to receive, such as exclusive or early information.

Corporate RSS to Aid Marketing By Jason Dowdell at 11:52 AM
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Friday, June 02, 2006

Google Displays Love for Branded Ads

Look out Yahoo, here comes big daddy. Google CEO Eric Schmidt told analysts this week that the company was investigating display as well as video ads, encroaching upon turf that the company had heretofore left alone.

It was inevitable that Google would enter the arena as the lucrative display biz is easy money for the search engine. It's amazing that they have held back from this low-hanging temptation for so long. But Schmidt said it may take a while for Google to develop the service that would likely coincide with the video ad system that the company has acknowledged it is building.

Google would be smart to differentiate itself by offering a program that leverages behavioral and target marketing. Look for them to be shopping for some ad-serving technology companies as they build this important application. Another lame launch like the video search product would not be received well by advertisers who are used to working with other reliable options.

So it's a banner day for display ad companies, who will soon have tons more inventory to deliver.

Google Displays Love for Branded Ads By John Gartner at 04:53 PM
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eBay Markets Net Neutrality

Add eBay to the list of online marketers weighing in on the controversial issue of net neutrality.

Organizations on the consumer side fear that the telcos and ISPs, who want to charge more for higher speed connections to their clients that use the most bandwidth, will give the rest of their clients short shrift and create a tiered Internet.

Meg Whitman, CEO of eBay, e-mailed more than a million eBay members requested that they tell their congressional representatives to support legislation for net neutrality. The providers have said that they have no intention of blocking or hindering access to any websites, and their are laws that penalize companies for discriminating against competing ISPs.

The Internet has grown through cooperatively passing on email and web traffic, and with few exceptions, ISPs realize that it is in their best interest to play nice, because if they don't cooperate other ISPs can likewise slow or deny their customers access.

As long as companies are charged appropriately for the amount of traffic that visits their websites, the volume of data streamed, or the email that they send out, additional legislation is probably unnecessary. The varying prices for DSL, cable, T1, etc access show that the net isn't neutral, but rightly is you get what you pay for.

eBay Markets Net Neutrality By Jason Dowdell at 02:39 PM
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Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ask Receives Blogs and RSS

Ask.com has added blog and RSS feed searches to its roster of search tools. Ask's algorithm for blog searches weighs links within a category of content more heavily, and also pulls in historical data from sister company Bloglines.

The blog tool simplifies subscribing to feeds through several aggregator services, and makes it a snap to post links on Digg, del.icio.us or NewsVine.

Ask appears serious about challenging the big boys for a share of the search pie, and its RSS and blog search capabilities will help attract converts.

I am waiting for one of the search engines to fully integrate news and blog searches because the wall betwixt the two is falling fast. Newspapers have many blogs, while bloggers are becoming mainstream media and breaking news first. If bloggers get this comparative status, it may boost their ability to sell advertising.

Found via Adotas.

Ask Receives Blogs and RSS By Jason Dowdell at 05:16 PM
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Google, Yahoo Look to Video Search

Google is preparing a search engine that would simultaneously search video content from the web and TV, according to The Business.

An electronic programming guide for searching TV content is certainly needed since the current TV searches are only offered by DVRs like TiVo. Google should be able to do it better than anyone else. The company is also rumored to be working on a PPC model for TV advertising, which would significantly open up the bidding process to more advertisers.

Yahoo also upgraded its video search to make it more YouTube-like. So now we have people uploading video to one or more of several video search engines, without cross indexing. Isn't search supposed to be about finding the best from everywhere? It's a pain for video producers as well as limiting to consumers to have to search multiple engines. Maybe people will just stick with YouTube (as long as it doesn't run out of money).

The wildcard could be a search engine that can also index the words spoken during a video. IBM is among the groups that are working on this technology, which would let you find video showing Brangelina as well as the countless programs discussing their recent reproductive success. If one of the search engines masters this, they could separate themselves from the me too search engines.

Google, Yahoo Look to Video Search By Jason Dowdell at 11:01 AM
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June 2006 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (14 entries) June 1-10
  • Week 2 (14 entries) June 11-17
  • Week 3 (13 entries) June 18-24
  • Week 4 (9 entries) June 25-30

DVRs and RSS Need to Get Hitched
Of course you're a believer Mike... that&apos...
by Jason
DVRs and RSS Need to Get Hitched
Good article - I'm an RSS believer. Check o...
by Mike M
Web 2.0: What Will Be Different
I really enjoyed your article on Web 2.0! We are h...
by Suzanne

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