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February 2008 Marketing Archives

Friday, February 08, 2008

Marketers Need a PR Reality Check

In my 19 years of journalism I've always enjoyed a good relationship with the PR community. We all have a job to do, and need to respect the goals and pressures that the other side faces.

PR folks can build better relationships with journos by knowing how to respond in a timely fashion and when to back off. Also, they need to manage their clients' expectations to eliminate the waste of time. Everyone wants to be featured in the biggest blogs and news sites, but sometimes the "news" that is being offered just ain't worth it. The best PR folks know when to say no to the idea of a release, and when to let their clients know that a given release isn't like to make the front page of TechCrunch or the LA Times.

I have been frustrated recently by emails that say "My client has put out a release regarding this topic that might interest you, would you like me to send it?" This unnecessary email is a waste of everyone's time. If you think it's of interest, include the damn release! Don't make me respond to an email. If it's not relevant, don't bother.

The other key to a reporter's heart is making sure that your clients are available as needed. The one time that a reporter calls for comment on an issue and your client gets on the phone with them within 2 hours is worth more than any amount of schmoozing or free drinks you can offer. It will make that reporter more available in the future. As above, don't send non-event releases to reporters that you hold in esteem just to meet your queue. Better to give your client some tough love and move on.

Marketers Need a PR Reality Check By John Gartner at 10:09 AM
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Directories Fight for Relevancy

Back in the days the days when the Internet was young (its first case of acne set in around 1998), directories were the most powerful guides to the Internet. Search engines have taken that mantle, but SEO expert David Eaves makes the case that begin listed in directories is still relevant because they can improve your search ranking.

Life was much simpler when being part of the Netscape Directory or NetGuide were all it took to send traffic to your doorstep. Directories have passed their prime, but you'll still see them pop up occasionally amongst search results.

Eaves provides helpful information about the important of deep linking and anchor text which can be applied to all of your linking efforts. Associating popular search terms with your site can be helpful if you participate in link exchanges.

Web rings, a more recent twist on directories, can similary be used to help improve your search standing.

Directories Fight for Relevancy By John Gartner at 09:42 AM
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Thursday, February 07, 2008

Mochila Opens API for News Content

Mochila, a news clearinghouse, has created an API that enables publishers to directly feed articles into their content management system. The RSS feed allows publishers to specify content by keyword, category and source.

Mochila consolidates wire stories (AP, Reuters), blogs, and image libraries so that publishers can enrich their sites without having to form individual relationships with the content companies. Previously Mochila offered widgets, but offering an API enables publishers to pick and choose content as they please.

It's a smart play for publishers to add value (like local news in the previous post) with minimal programming work. Most -- but hardly all -- publishers offer RSS feeds so you could build this capability yourself without having to share the revenue with Mochila, but it's a lot more work.

Mochila Opens API for News Content By John Gartner at 08:39 AM
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Sites Converge on Local News Delivery

Google has joined Yahoo in offering local news as part of its customized news page. Las month startup EveryBlock joined Topix.net as locally-focuses competitors to the big news hubs.

It is not surprising that local sites are awakening to the opportunity of local news since nearly everyone cares about what's happening in their neighborhood. Further customization such as adding or blocking certain local news sources or broadening the local news territory should be part of the mix before long.

Social networks need to get in the game as well. Facebook, MySpace etc. should add widgets for customizing local news and events that would enable users to easily share what's happening and make plans. Getting people to talk about concerts or events in the area is a great traffic builder.

Local search should also be added as an option within the news and social environments. Local.com posted record earnings, and linking to goods and services can boost revenue much quicker than generic display ads.

Sites Converge on Local News Delivery By John Gartner at 08:15 AM
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Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Google, Comcast Potential AOL Suiters

Since major acquisitions in a industry tend to feed off each other, it is possible that an AOL purchase might come on the heels of Microsoft's potential purchase of Yahoo.

It would make sense for Google to buy AOL if the company were scared into acting defensively, but I don't see that happening. Google is confident in its position, and I don't see MicroHoo changing that. Google would only do so if it thought it could gain strategic advantage by leveraging AOL's audience. Not likely.

However, if Comcast started to show genuine interest, Google's position could change. The cable/Internet intersection is far from complete, and as I've been saying, Comcast would be more successful than Time-Warner was in bringing web content to its cable audience.

AOL has content assets in addition to its audience and online advertising platform, and those are all pieces that Comcast needs more than Google does. So I'm betting that if AOL goes to anyone, it will be the cable company, not Google.

Google, Comcast Potential AOL Suiters By John Gartner at 10:04 AM
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Microsoft Labs Cook Up Targeting, Overlay Ads

Microsoft -- perhaps in a move to showcase its ad talents to prospective acquisition Yahoo -- demonstrated a series of video ad technologies.

Many of these technologies (as reported by the The San Francisco Chronicle) were adapted from search and text advertising.

Microsoft is developing a dashboard application that focuses on keyword concept as opposed to individual keyword performance. If buying a concept could net a suite of effective keywords, life would be easier for advertisers.

Microsoft is also working on video insertion technologies, such as finding a place within the video frame to magically use as a billboard. Content providers would probably object to this "green screen" like technology, but it could work if they film with the intent to allow advertising.

Also demonstrated were contextual ads that are prompted based on the speech within a video (this has been tackled numerous times before) as well as behavioral technology that matches ads with the most likely audience recipients.

It looks like MicroHoo may happen if Microsoft can convince Yahoo shareholders that they can get a better return by running its ads. The Yahoo brand would have to continue since its value far surpasses the exciting "MSN" branding. MSN should go away -- make it all Yahoo!

Microsoft Labs Cook Up Targeting, Overlay Ads By John Gartner at 09:44 AM
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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Forget Reruns: Watch Classifieds on TV

Hmm, reality shows, reruns I've already seen, or -- what's this -- video classifieds on demand? Liquidus is a platform for distributing video ads online, on TV, and through video on demand simultaneously.

The company claims that it can distribute the ads for less than the cost of a print classified, which tells you just how overpriced the classifieds are. I'm perplexed as to why Liquidus is calling them "video classifieds" instead of video ads, because when I think classifieds, I think static, black and white print, not hip Web 2.0-ish interactive ads.

Liquidus has deals to distribute ads via cable boxes through partnerships with Comcast, Charter, and Time Warner, and advertisers can specify the markets where they want the ads to run. The company says ads can be edited and automatically update across its three distribution channels.

Getting consumers to watch movies via video on demand has been a challenge, and getting them to choose to watch video advertisements is even tougher. Why not just insert the ads in free on demand content such as movies or TV shows? (On second thought I guess seeking out the ads is what makes them classifieds.)

Interactive advertising will eventually be a revenue generator on TV, but I'm not so sure that classifieds will be a big part of it.

Forget Reruns: Watch Classifieds on TV By John Gartner at 06:41 PM
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Website Cloning Appeals to Local Tastes

Publishers looking to create local or niche websites based on their brand have a new automation tool to accelerate the process. Content management system provider Sitecore has released Foundry, an application that enables you to clone a website's look and feel for affiliates or local chapters while retaining your brand.

Foundry provides customizable templates for sections including user-generated content sections such as forums, photo sharing, and SMS as well as group calendars or web-based e-mail. Each local website can have its own skin while administration can be controlled through a central server interface.

Affiliates need to rapidly create sites to optimize their exposure, so tools such as Foundry can keep the grunt work to a minimum. Retail, travel, or health publishers who want to appear to local tastes can get traffic by search engine optimizing sites for each geography.

Perception is everything, so the appearance of having sites built by your neighbor or touting the local shopping opportunities will have an advantage with some consumers who'd rather not sell from generic web shops.

Website Cloning Appeals to Local Tastes By John Gartner at 12:37 PM
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Monday, February 04, 2008

Yahoo Gets Out of Music Business

If you doubted that there was a tougher business to be in online than music subscriptions, believe now. Yahoo, though in a slump is still resource rich, decided to sell its digital music service to Real Networks.

Yahoo will get needed cash as it focuses more on.... not sure. Yahoo has the most popular music site on Earth, but it still couldn't make music subscriptions a lucrative business. Real Networks has tried the hardest, so this will enhance their chances.

But if I'm a Yahoo shareholder, this doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the management. Yahoo has tried being the multimedia company to differentiate itself from Google, but now it seems that they are giving up. All of that traffic can be worth much more if you can sell them stuff, so this puts more pressure on the ad side of the business.

Yahoo Gets Out of Music Business By John Gartner at 08:33 AM
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Sunday, February 03, 2008

ClubSport Defines How to Lose a Customer

One of the most effective marketing tools is through happy customers who tell their friends about the company. Somehow this concept of word of mouth marketing has escaped many gyms and fitness centers who take their customers for granted.

ClubSport, which operates franchises in California, Oregon, and Nevada is a prime example of how not to treat customers. I've been a member for a few years and have enjoyed a spin cycling class. The Sunday class has become too crowded of late, and I haven't been able to participate despite arriving 15-20 minutes because of too many new members and not enough bikes.

The company's "handling" of the situation isn't to add more bikes or more classes -- instead they ask that members wait in line for up to an hour to take the class.

Today I showed up 50 minutes before the class started and put my stuff on a bike, and then went to use some weight machines. I knew that the policy was to put out a sign-up list at 8:10 to reserve a bike, so I returned at 8:05 to find a long line of people standing around the gym -- it was as if Hannah Montana were about to perform. Despite showing up extra early, yet again I was shut out.

Instead of putting out the list early so that you could sign-up and then work out (isn't that why you go to a gym?), the staff members told me that yes, you are expected to stand or sit around and wait.

You may have had similar experiences at other gyms -- frustrations with lengthy contracts, hefty joining fees, or no suspension of a membership because of travel or illness. I also had a tussle with Bally's in the past because of a facility with a pool that was broken that wouldn't be fixed for several months, and they refused to suspend or cancel a contract.

Websites are full of complaints of customer disservice, and quitting a relationship with a company (as I have now done) is also a way to have an impact. Unfortunately many fitness clubs don't get it and continue to focus on recruitment rather than retention.

ClubSport Defines How to Lose a Customer By John Gartner at 11:54 AM
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Friday, February 01, 2008

No Slow Down to Click Fraud

And the bogus clicks just keep on comin'. According to Click Forensics, the fraudulent clicks online rose to 16.6 percent in Q4 of 2007, up from 14.2 percent. The really scary news is that click fraud rose to more than 28.1 percent on content networks including Google and Yahoo.

That more than a quarter of clicks are fraudulent is unacceptable to the content networks advertisers. There needs to be a strong economic incentive for the companies to develop technology to track the fraud. The FTC needs to get involved to apply pressure on these networks to stop the problem or discount their fees based on their click fraud rates.

Click fraud is hurting Ask.com ($862,000) and Miva (nearly $4 million) which this month both settled click fraud lawsuits. Penalties of an appropriate scale need to be levied
against the big networks unless they can prove that they have sufficiently addressed the problem.

No Slow Down to Click Fraud By John Gartner at 09:23 AM
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MicroHoo Better For Nearly Everyone

The Merger to end all mergers might come to pass. Microsoft's generous offer (62 percent premium) to buy Yahoo will certainly shake up the industry, and most likely for the better.

A strong competitor to Google will force the company to offer competitive advertising solutions and give advertisers a viable second choice to take their business. The reality is that if you want to grow your business through display advertising or search marketing, you need to be in bed with Google, and that's not healthy. Together, MicroHoo offers the audience that marketers need.

If you are a Yahoo shareholder you have to like the offer of being able to cash out or be a part of Microsoft's continually profitable stock program.

There will be many folks who cry that Microsoft will stifle Yahoo's innovation and continue its streak of ineptitude in online venture. Good! Because of its sheer size, MicroHoo will always breathe down Google neck, but it will never be savvy enough to become the Evil Empire online. Neither company has had a stellar track record of innovation in recent years in the Web 2.0 world, and that's less likely to happen in a combined effort. Microsoft's search function will benefit from Yahoo, while Yahoo's per user revenue would rise thanks to Microsoft's marketing clout.

Many Yahoo execs would likely jump ship, which would be sad for them, but engender innovation across the webisphere as they start their own companies or boost other rising stars. Again, good for the industry.

I prefer choice and healthy competition, but I'm not afraid of a Microsoft monopoly online unless Google completely loses their vision.

Finally, if this hostile bid fails, it puts Yahoo on notice that something radical has to be done for the company to please shareholders and to continue to be a leading force online. If the EU or DOJ doesn't let MicroHoo come to pass, we are no worse off than today.

MicroHoo Better For Nearly Everyone By John Gartner at 08:14 AM
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February 2008 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (12 entries) February 1-9
  • Week 2 (10 entries) February 10-16
  • Week 3 (10 entries) February 17-23
  • Week 4 (8 entries) February 24-29

ClubSport Defines How to Lose a Customer
ClubSport lost over 150 potential people before we...
by Dr S
ClubSport Defines How to Lose a Customer
The prolonged value of a customer???!! It's h...
by Finess Guy
Mochila Opens API for News Content
John, Thank you for covering our announcement. Ple...
by Keith McAllister
ClubSport Defines How to Lose a Customer
The incentive structure for trainers and staff the...
by Pinny Cohen

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