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October 2007 Marketing Archives

Friday, October 05, 2007

Web 2.0 Losing Its Luster

The nebulous term "Web 2.0" is taking some hits for being over used and for already becoming passé. Heck, even IBM is using Web 2.0 in its marketing, so how cutting edge can it be? The always clever Fritz Nelson highlights some of the signs of Web 2.0 addiction in a funny post at Information Week. First e-mail starting taking the place of phone/live conversation, and now we have dozens of social networking tools that increase our digital communications while reducing the times we hear the uniquely affecting human voice. Yeah progress! Web "visionary" Jason Calcanis is getting some heat for presumptively defining what is Web 3.0, and the condescension of his post is obvious. Thus spake Calcanis:

Web 3.0 is defined as the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform.

So commoners, stay back in Web 2.0, only the truly talented or "gifted individuals" (I fit that category on December 26) shall claim the mantle Web 3.0. Defining Web 3.0 through a subjective assessment of what is or isn't "high quality" is like categorizing modern art into dozens of derivative subsets. It only has meaning for those who want to believe so. If Web 2.0 has eventually lost its meaning, unlike Web 3.0, at least it had some to begin with. I'll stay back with the rabble in Web 2.0, thank you very much.

Web 2.0 Losing Its Luster By John Gartner at 10:02 AM
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Beware Aggressive Search Marketers

Two months ago I received a call from ZipWeb about online search marketing services. Since I already advertise on a number of local search directories for my wife's business and am happy with the paid and natural search results, I told them I didn't need to spend any more on search marketing.

But the telemarketer insisted it was a risk-free 30 day trial and that we would have great placement on MSN, Google and Yahoo. I'm wary of these "something for nothing" free trials having been burned several times, but since I wasn't asked for a credit card numbered I figured it wouldn't cost me anything.

Surprise! This month my phone bill -- my phone bill! -- had a charge of $49.95 from PaymentOne.com, whom I'd never heard of before. I called the 800 number and was told that I had authorized the charge from ZipWeb during my phone conversation. I do not remember this, and certainly never told my phone company (Qwest) to place third-party charges on my bill without my permission. Qwest told me I had to opt out of third-party billing, which I did, but that they couldn't refund the charges. PaymentOne likewise told me I was SOL. Also, the "free" ZipWeb promotion didn't help the business attract new leads. September saw the fewest Internet leads for the business in over a year.

So be very afraid when you answer the phone from search marketers. I've also been getting more direct mail from Google and heard several spots on the radio about Yahoo local search marketing. Search marketers are going offline to try and inform and recruit a broader audience, but be careful.

Beware Aggressive Search Marketers By John Gartner at 09:22 AM
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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Cable Growing as Music Player

Cable companies are becoming increasingly competitive as music download players, and they might continue to succeed because of three advantages.

Time Warner Cable announced two new music services in partnership with MusicNet -- a streaming/download service as well as a service tailored to mobile users. Cox Communications recently announced a deal with Sprint so that mobile phone customers can download music and have the charges put on a single bill. Also competing is Comcast, which has been working with RealNetwork's Rhapsody service for several years.

Cable companies have a leg up on the Emusics and Napsters of the world because they already have relationships with millions of consumers, have the broadband pipes to deliver music, and can integrate the billing into current cable charges.

Having one provider supply your TV, online, mobile phone, and now music services is oh-so-convenient for consumers as long as the depth and quality of service is there on all fronts. Perhaps everyone not named iTunes should consider selling to or partnering with a cable or telecom company that can offer the strength of bundles.

Cable Growing as Music Player By John Gartner at 10:50 AM
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Facebook Part of Retro Web 2.0

So Steve Ballmer is discounting Facebook as a fad that fickle young people will flee as fast as the first flocked to it, according to Adotas. So is Steve being honest, or just trying to soften the investment market so that in a few months Microsoft can get a bargain? Although Ballmer is brazen enough to air his feelings in the media, this reminds me of the Whole Foods CEO who was anonymously ragging on Wild Oats online in the months leading up to acquiring the company.

I've been skeptical of Facebook's long term prospects as well, although it looks like a billion dollar payout is still possible.

Sly Steve was right in comparing Facebook to Geocities, which was the Facebook of a decade ago. Although the tools are more polished today and the words "social networking" have replaced "community," check out the similar wording in Yahoo's press
release
from 1999, when many of Facebook's regulars were still pre-puberty.

"With more than 3.5 million sites authored and hosted on GeoCities, the company has built one of the Web's largest communities"... "the easy-to-use and innovative publishing tools... allow non-technical users to instantly create, publish and update content on the Web." Sounds a tad like Facebook and MySpace, eh?

This is just one example of "new" tools and sites that are retreads of what helped to fuel Bubble 1.0. Podcasts were called MP3 downloads, and rich media RSS feeds were called "push" technology, NetFlix was Kozmo, and Amazon Fresh was called Peapod.

To quote David Byrne -- Same as it ever was.

Facebook Part of Retro Web 2.0 By John Gartner at 10:27 AM
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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Micro-site Mistakes Cause Traffic Accidents

The rise of vertical marketing might tempt publishers to break up their sites into niche micro-sites so that the content seems more targeted. But as SEOMOZ rightly points out, scattering the links will hinder your search ranking.

If you have an established property that gets sufficient traffic, then spinning of a vertical micro-site (like Private Practice from Grey's Anatomy) can be advantageous. But going "too vertical" can also limit the attractiveness to advertisers and indexing by search engines if the content is overly refined.

Micro-sites make sense around special events (sporting events, holidays, political campaigns) or promotions and do allow you to optimize the bejeezus out of a topic, and also point back to the mother ship.

Micro-site Mistakes Cause Traffic Accidents By John Gartner at 09:58 AM
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Adobe Platform Not So Hot for SEO

Adobe announced its new media player that can display Flash video and PDFs offline . The technologies, which were announced earlier in the year have received a warm welcome from developers, might make for a flashier website, but the will make your site more difficult to optimize for search engines.

Implementing Flash menus might save space on a page and look nice, but search bots will drive right by the content that is linked to inside. Using frames is also a no-no (see useful tips by USESEO.

Design aesthetics needs to go hand in hand with SEO for sites in need of traffic, which is basically everyone. Finding designers who are also SEO masters is a challenge, and even more difficult is managing conflict between SEO-smart developers and egocentric designers (is that redundant) -- kind of like asking a tiger and lion to politely share the fresh carcass of an antelope.

I got confused when reading through the Adobe press releases because of their dyslexic technologies. There's Adobe AIR software, the cross operating system application runtime, and the there's the rich Internet applications (RIAs) that drives the Flash Player. I can't wait for them to introduce their next technologies -- ARI and IRA.

Adobe Platform Not So Hot for SEO By John Gartner at 09:21 AM
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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mochila Matches Ads to Content

Media distribution startup Mochila correctly believes that to a great extent Web content is a commodity that should be "sold" on an open market by matching it up with relevant content. The model is simple -- aggregate related content and create distribution widgets that dynamically insert ads.

The company has signed up an impressive lot of content partners including Reuters, the AP, Hearst, MSNDBC. Belo, and most recently user-generated content site Citizen Image. On the advertising side Mochila has partnered with Clickability, Tacoda and Quigo.

The strength of this model is wide distribution, extensive ad inventory, and automation. The company seems to be competing with vertical ad network companies such as Adify (with whom my my company partners) that attempt to offer deeper content and generate higher CPMs. The limitation in Mochila's model is that in giving up your ad sales to a third-party you'll never get the same rates for your content as if you hire your own sales person. Wire feeds do make sense as commodities since dozens of services will have similar stories about breaking news, and user generated photos won't be far behind.

Today we are still in the early stages of figuring out the distributed content/ad model, but someone will come up with the right mix.

Mochila Matches Ads to Content By John Gartner at 09:38 AM
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Microsoft Takes on TiVo, AppleTV and Sling Media

Microsoft, which has more failed attempts at capturing TV viewers (see WebTV) than Pamela Anderson has had relationships, is taking on all comers with a new platform that wirelessly puts the Web on your TV.

Last week's announcement of new Media Center Extender (MCE) devices will take on not only AppleTV, but also TiVo and the SlingBox. Microsoft has transferred its user interface from the Media Center PCs using Windows Vista to the TV to provide DVR, media viewing and remote TV watching, all driven by a TV remote.

BigPictureBigSound has an excellent run down on the announcement, including descriptions of the hardware from partners Niveus Media, D-Link, Linksys and HP.

With one of these living room gadgets, you get TiVo functionality, can watch downloaded movies or clips and look at the family photos, or watch your recorded shows when you are on the road. This is as close to my dream DVRSS device as I've seen. The last piece is to be able to subscribe to an RSS video feed or save links to streaming video and make them easily accessible through the remote control.

As before I still see no reason to buy an AppleTV, and this could be the final nail in that boxes coffin. Media Center PC features are becoming ubiquitous through Vista, so the installed base will be huge within a few years. Video providers are abandoning iTunes with abandon. Of all of the companies to integrate TV and web viewing, I would not have thought that Microsoft would be the one to get it right, but just maybe they have.

Microsoft Takes on TiVo, AppleTV and Sling Media By John Gartner at 08:49 AM
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October 2007 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (8 entries) October 1-6
  • Week 2 (10 entries) October 7-13
  • Week 3 (10 entries) October 14-20
  • Week 4 (10 entries) October 21-27
  • Week 5 (4 entries) October 28-31

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