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December 2008, Week 4 Marketing Archives

Friday, December 26, 2008

Tweebay Could Revolutionize Online Auctions

tweebay logo

As if 2008 wasn't hard enough for eBay, now it has Twitter to compete with. Developer Paul Rawlings just launched Tweebay,  the radical new version of online auctions.

I discovered this new market during my read through TechCrunch . On its surface, Tweebay looks like its still in desperate need of some fine-tuning. Here's a general overview of the auction process as it stands:

  • You have 240 characters to describe your item and can upload one photo, so use it wisely.
  • Every time you post an item for sale,bid or make any type of transaction on Tweebay, you'll receive a Direct Message on Twitter to confirm its you.
  • Shoppers can browse through 22 different categories, ranging from antiques to video games.
  • As of today, there's no standard method of payment. The buyer and the user must reach an agreement.

Since Tweebay is in its initial stages, it's too early to predict how much of an impact it could have on e-commerce and auction sites such as eBay. Facebook launched a market last year, but it's failed to generate notable momentum, and it's buried underneath dozens of other applications on the cluttered interface.

Tweebay Could Revolutionize Online Auctions By Matt O'Hern at 05:01 PM
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Nintendo Wii Helps Amazon Set Holiday Sales Record

amazon nintendo wiiAmazon should be kissing Mario's shoes, or is it the other way around?

I'm not sure which is  more impressive:

  1. The continuous popularity for the Nintendo Wii. (Two years after its release.)
  2. Amazon's ability to meet the high demand in the market.

I already called the Wii "recession proof", but I didn't know it was capable of boosting a company the size of Amazon. As retailers and department stores try every gimmick and sale to compensate for dismal holiday sales figures, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) is boasting its best Winter sales figures on record. If you're not convinced of the retailer's desparity, check out some of the amazing prices Barnes and Noble is offering for its after-holiday sale.

According to a story in today's Wall Street Journal the online retaier received more than 6.3 million orders on Dec. 15, which set at a record pace of 72.9 items per second. An article in today's edition of the Puget Sound Business Journal, Amazon's top sellers included the Nintendo Wii and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Office 2008 for Mac Home & Student Edition.

Amazon's success in the midst of a national sales slump should come as no surprise to anyone who has studied the career of its CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos.

Bezos' concept for Amazon formed during his  cross-country road trip in 1994. (I know that's when I've had some of my craziest ideas) With a $300,000 loan from his parents and the extra space in his garage,Bezo's dream was converted into one of the most successful business ventures in recent history. His resourceful and versatile approach to business still keeps Amazon afloat during the tough times.

Nintendo Wii Helps Amazon Set Holiday Sales Record By Matt O'Hern at 03:56 PM
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Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.

I received an iTunes gift card for Christmas,  just like millions of other iPod and iPhone owners out there, but when I tried to scratch off cover over the code, I applied too much force, and my number looked like this.

 I'm sure 7-11 or another convenience store has already coined this phrase for a scratch-off lotto ticket promo, but I was guilty of "Card Scratch Fever". CSF is a condition that causes iTunes users to scratch their card number with such force that they destroy some of the code. (At first, I thought my misfortune could be part of an evil scheme by Steve Jobs and Apple to save millions of dollars with defective cards, but my conspiracy theory was debunked within minutes.)

If you get the fever,we have the prescription.. (No, it isn't more cowbell) After several unsuccesful attempts to redeem my card on the Redeem Code page, Apple provided a link to "Get help",just below the form space where I entered the code. Once I clicked "Get Help", it added another line to the form where I could enter  THE NUMBER ON THE BOTTOM LEFT CORNER on the back of the card. itunes-card-serial-number

 I entered as much of the I scratch-off code I could read, along with the serial number.To my pleasant surprise, my $25 was redeemed, without even one call to Apple customer service. Well done, iTunes!

Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help. By Matt O'Hern at 11:43 AM
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Relaxed App Store Rules May Spark Censorship Debate

Just a warning, this post may remind you of some conversations you heard in the junior high locker room.

For the record, I agree with Apple's decision to filter its items for sale in the app store. To maintain a family friendly feel and to avoid lawsuits, Apple is taking the moral high ground regarding adult-themed applications.

Any programs featuring nudity are banned, which means mom and dad don't have to worry about sexual pics showing up on the latest application their teenager is downloading. In my opinion, Apple's standard makes the iPhone more appealing to a protective family. (I'm sure there are plenty of people out there,including app developers, who disagree with me.)gamble apps

Personally, I support Apple's decision, because I think there's already enough of that stuff floating around the Internet, and this is one measure that could keep those pics away from kids. I also believe that Apple, as well as every other company, has the right to protect its image through certain regulations.

Here's the problem: For many developers, Apple's vague description of "objectionable material" leaves too much room for interpretation, and that's why I expect a few legal problems in the near future.

II have my own set of beliefs and morals, but people from different backgrounds,cultures and religions have different standards for what's "objectionable." or "inappropriate." That's just a fact of life- no matter what your moral standards are, You know there are always plenty of others who disagree with you.

According to tgdaily, more 10,000 apps have been developed. Of the 10,000 apps, I'm sure there are at least a few that some parents can't be too thrilled with, including:

  • Poker and gambling related applications out there. Some parents may not want their kids exposed to gambling related games , in fear that they might become addicted at a young age.
  • The iBeer application. You're ewarded for "chugging" a virtual beer. Some parents may think  those games encourage underage drinking.
  • Farting apps. Believe me, they exist. Dozens of different versions, from iFart mobile to Pull My Finger. Each one plays whoopie cushion sound effects. If I had a kid, I'd laugh along with him, but some parents may not enjoy those sounds  in public places and other situations where they could be embarrassed.

What's the solution to this ethical debate regarding censorship?

Apple could clarify its stance with a list of categories deemed objectionable", so developers have specific list to follow. However, regardless of what the "banned" list includes, there will be plenty of other  items with the potential to offend SOME groups.

The bottom line for Apple: there is no easy answer. A story by tgdaily offers further insight about censorship and the future of app store.

Relaxed App Store Rules May Spark Censorship Debate By Matt O'Hern at 10:30 AM
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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Post / Sun Shared Content = A Smart Move for Print Media

Perhaps it's just the magic of Christmas, but two former rivals of print journalism set aside their differences and combined forces to optimize their coverage.

As other publications resort to lawsuits, the Washington Post and the Baltimore Sun hope cooler heads can prevail.

The two papers will share breaking news, suburban coverage and national and foreign stories, but they'll still compete for state government news and sports news for the University of Maryland. Managing editors claim the agreement will reduce freelance contracts and travel costs but won't result in full-time staff reductions.

Robert McCartney, assistant managing editor for metropolitan news at the Post, said.

If something big breaks on the Eastern Shore or in Western Maryland, we can decide whether we'll send the reporter or you (Sun) send the reporter. Or if it's such a big deal, we might both want to send reporters. But a lot of times, we'll be able to send just one.

Desperate times call for bold measures, and this agreement could serve as a great example for the other major dailies aiming to cut costs. I'll be interested to see if this trickles down to mid-size and smaller markets, such as the Orlando Sentinel(owned by the Tribune Company) and the Florida Today (owned by Gannet).

Post / Sun Shared Content = A Smart Move for Print Media By Matt O'Hern at 11:24 AM
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Mattel Goes Back to Marketing 101

On the eve of her 50th birthday, Mattel's world-famous doll, Barbie is scheduled for an extreme makeover.

Several marketing mistakes,from inconsistent logos to an obsessive focus on secondary merchandise items have damaged the Barbie brand and stalled sales during the past decade.
Enter new general manager Bloomingdale's in various capacities, including the men's and kids departments plus almost five years in cosmetics Richard Dickson ,who vows to return to the original model for Barbies success stay head of the trends and set new ones. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dickson confessed that Mattel had misplaced priorities when it was pushing items such as Barbie golf clubs.

Dickson plans to return the doll to her root to make it a hot item with older girls, who are opting for video games and other trendy items. A renewed focus on the fundamental marketing model that propelled barbie to its initial success.

You could say that we lost our way. Frankly, we were distracted and we were also hit by the competition. We had lost a whole piece of the business, the older girl.

Now, I'll be the first to admit, I'm not familiar with doll brands (thand goodness), but after a little research, I discovered that Bratz dolls are essentially a skanky, goth verison of barbie. An article by CNN included this priceless description from Tasha Curry-Corcoran, mother of a Six-year-old Sierra

Bratz are trashy: They wear too much makeup. Their clothing is too short; their boots are too high. They look like prostitutes. That's why we don't have them in our house.

What's Mattel's solution for the competition? Challenge it,one-on-one.

Mattell sued Bratz maker, MGA Entertainment, for intellectual property rights. (one of its former designers joined Bratz) A jury awarded $100 million to Mattel. In an order, Judge Stephen G. Larson wrote that MGA would be "permanently enjoined" from making, producing or licensing the dolls. The judge also ordered MGA to transfer all dolls and associated products to a location of Mattel's choosing.

Mattel's plan reminds me of some important points in Allen P. Adamson's book,Branddigital, which emphasizes the importance of balancing a single idea with the ability to make rolling adjustments. If they adhere to those principles, Barbie might make a serious comeback.

Mattel Goes Back to Marketing 101 By Matt O'Hern at 08:56 AM
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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Charities should consider SEO solutions


Unfortunately,some of the biggest victims of our economic downturn have been honorable charities, and other grassroots-supported organizations.

As our own,personal budgets shrink, many of us will exercise even more caution when we decide to donate. If we're going to give that money toward a cause, we want to ensure we're contributing to a worthy cause that's reaching the right people and addressing a need we deem important.

One of the easiest and fastest ways to research a charity is through detailed guides such as, charity, or a Google search for the org's name, which increases the value of every charity and organization's online reputation.
 Just as businesses have discovered, charities can't rely on the traditional methods of advertising to spread awareness about their service.

Small to mid-level sized charities,based on a local or regional level, may be wondering if there's anyway to get the word out to the public,without spending excessive amounts for a TV or radio ad.

Many of them rely on volunteer work and devote a fraction of their budget to promoting their cause. By utilizing SEO tools,including social networks and analytics, charities can address two needs.

1.Gauge the donor base

2.Eliminate many of the overhead costs that are wasted on mass mailings and other forms of outbound marketing. 

The biggest question is, how many of these organizations will consider a drastic change to their current form of advertising?

Charities should consider SEO solutions By Matt O'Hern at 12:35 PM
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Media resorts to cannibalism for survival

alive poster parody


Remember the movie Alive? 

The graphic and controversial film was a re-enactment of the Andes Airflight Disaster, when survivors ate the remains of crash victims to fight starvation.

Following the crash of their own stock, news media is following a similar course.Alternative media claims that mainstream publications are picking them apart to help their own survival. The Boston Globe (a division of New York Times Company) and Huffington Post, have been accused of plagiarism by Gatehouse Media and Chicago Reader, respectively.

Chicago Reader, a division of Creative Loafing Inc., has accused Huffington Post of stealing its copyrighted theater reviews and re-publishing them in their entireity. Creative Loafing  filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in September
Meanwhile, Gatehouse Media,which publishes hundreds of daily and weekly papers throughout the U.S., has accused the Boston Globe of stealing its headlines and original material. Neither company can afford a costly lawsuit or settlement The Boston Globe is a division of the New York Times, which is in the midst of one of its worst quarter and revenue has also dropped for Gatehouse Media.Marty Bandier, who was on Gatehouse's board of directors, resigned just two weeks ago.

Personally, I think these two separate cases are just the beginning Don't get me wrong, I don't condone the actions of the Huffington Post. No blog should steal ANY publication's ENTIRE section, but the timing seems to be more than just a coincidence.

*Update: In related news, the Pew Research Center revealed some interesting stats in its latest survey. Of the 1,489 adults in the U.S. they surveyed, 40 percent said they get most of their national and international news from the Internet, compared to 35 percent from newspapers.

Media resorts to cannibalism for survival By Matt O'Hern at 10:11 AM
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Monday, December 22, 2008

Viacom / MTV dispute FMA rights to

MTV and its parent company- Viacom, claim the site developer Future Media Architects doesn't have fair ownership rights to According to the  Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers,(ICANN), Viacom must prove three things to win arbitration:
1. Future Media Architects’s domain name is identical or similar to a trademark to which Viacom has rights
2. FMA doesn’t have rights or legitimate interests in the domain name
3. FMA is using the domain name in bad faith.

FMA is run byThunayan Khalid Al-Ghanim, an entreprenuer owns  thousands of other domains under the online alias: "Elequa."
The elusive Al-Ghanim is a native of Kuwait. FMA is already in the midst of a trademark lawsuit with  Lufthansa Airlines over The ruling on the Lufthansa Airlines suit and the pending results of Viacom's dispute could set a precedent for cases involving trademarked names and domain ownership.

Viacom / MTV dispute FMA rights to By Matt O'Hern at 03:00 PM
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Impact of the Youtube and Warner Music Fallout

youtube vs. warner

Youtube has encountered another licensing battle with a media giant, after Warner Music Group demanded for the video platform to remove thousands of music videos featuring artists under the WMG label.
You may recall a similar conflict between Viacom and Youtube in 2007, when  Viacom sent upwards of 100,000 DMCA takedown notices and sued Youtube for large-scale copyright infringement.
An excerpt from today's article in the  New York Times explains the reasoning behind Warner's demand to remove the music videos.

 Music and the other major record labels - Universal Music, Sony BMG and EMI - reached licensing pacts with YouTube two years ago. ...Disagreements about whether the labels should be paid in advance or after the videos are viewed have contributed to the tension between Warner and YouTube .Warner’s deal with YouTube expired many months ago, a spokesman for Warner, Will Tanous, confirmed. The other labels are all thought to be negotiating for new licensing pacts, although representatives for those companies did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.

The public's reaction will be interesting to watch. Viacom received a black eye when it first attacked Youtube, but as every corporation struggles to remain profitable in this slow economy, Warner's actions may seem reasonable. What's your take on Warner's demand?

Impact of the Youtube and Warner Music Fallout By Matt O'Hern at 12:49 PM
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Google Translates for to Show Santa's Trek

norad santa tracker

Tracking St. Nick isn't easy.That's why a thousand volunteers answer nearly 95,000 phone calls and thousands of emails sent to

Since 1955, the national defense system in Colorado Springs has devoted its radar tracking capabilities to following Santa's sleigh around the globe. Booz Allen Hamilton designed the site that Google translates the Web site into Spanish, France, German, Japanese, Italian, and, for the first time, Chinese. 

Globelink Foreign Language Center provides audio translations,while Verizon donates the toll-free phone number 1 (877) HI NORAD (1 877 446-6723). In addition, Canada Post this year will provide responses to e-mails to Santa at

According to the Colorado Springs Gazette, most of the site vistors come from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada,but Chinese visitors spend the most time per visit. (Looks like China Mobile Limited may have to get involved with this effort next year.)
After you wind down your Christmas Eve with a reading of the "Night before Christmas", take your kids to and start a new Christmas tradition.

Google Translates for to Show Santa's Trek By Matt O'Hern at 09:27 AM
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« December 2008 Week 3 December 2008 Week 5 »

  • Week 1 (16 entries) December 1-6
  • Week 2 (16 entries) December 7-13
  • Week 3 (13 entries) December 14-20
  • Week 4 (11 entries) December 21-27
  • Week 5 (6 entries) December 28-31

Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.
@Fee And anyone else having a problem with a WRON...
by Sandy
Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.
by fee
Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.
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Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.
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by itunes user
Can't Read the Numbers on iTunes Gift Card? Here's Help.
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