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March 2008 Marketing Archives

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Ziff-Davis Declares Bankruptcy

The Microsoft of high tech publishing has fallen as far as you can go down: into bankruptcy. In the 90's, Ziff Davis was huge - 300 page issues of PC Magazine, dozens of titles, conferences -- they had it all.

But, then came the dot com crash, and a few years later the web started eroding print revenues as consumers stopped wanted to pay for magazines if they could read the content for free.

ZD couldn't stay ahead of the diggs and TechCrunches and slashdots who blogged faster and wrote smarter about tech.

The lesson here is that even seemingly untouchable companies can fall if they don't adapt or if new technologies make them largely obsolete. Are you listening Google?

Ziff-Davis Declares Bankruptcy By John Gartner at 08:30 PM
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Microsoft Should Give Up On Yahoo

Some relationships (like Kid Rock and Pam Anderson, or any involving Britney Spears) just aren't meant to be.

Microsoft tried flowers and then a shotgun to woo Yahoo, but the company just ain't having any of it. While hostile takeovers may work in trucking or manufacturing, they won't work in the web world.

Internet companies are creative ventures, and the uppoer management and engineers at Yahoo will stop to produce if forced to become Microsoftians. Why would you want to pay a premium for an internet company when much of the talent wants to leave? Also, any Microsoft staff who would be tossed aside because of redundant tasks would leave ill will that would carryover to the remaining employees.

Microsoft will have overpaid and won't see close to the benefits that they originally envisioned. If you want traffic, or advertising, or whatever, there are many smaller players who would be happy to be purchased.

Microsoft Should Give Up On Yahoo By John Gartner at 08:09 PM
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IPTV Ready for Takeoff

More than 90 million households will subscribe to IPTV (Internet Protocol TV) services by 2013, according to ABI Research. Global subscribers numbered about 13.5 million in 2007, but technology improvements will accelerate its adoption.

North America will lead the pack, ABI Research says. Verizon and AT&T begin to achieve some scale in their fiber broadband services, which is needed to deliver IPTV.

Analyst firm Strategy Analytics issued a report saying that U.S. IPTV firms could see profits of up to $14 billion by 2012.

Television over IP makes sense because of the interactive features and because a single wire brings all data into the household. Look for more companies to offer bundled solutions of voice, Internet and TV. This will create incredible opportunities for merging web and TV content and interactive advertising.

IPTV Ready for Takeoff By John Gartner at 08:58 AM
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Blog Networks Have Big Dreams

Federated Media, Technorati, and Glam are blog and advertising networks looking for big money to grow, according to TechCrunch. The publishers are seeking 10s of millions to grow into vertical publishing empires focused on subjects such as technology and women.

TechCrunch questions the sanity of seeking big investments because it puts more pressure on revenues in a publishing that is still sorting itself out. Having millions in VC helps for the short term, but the demand to return on that investment could be too high if advertisers aren't ready to pay for ads that are distributed across a variety of blog sites.

It's not an easy business to sell into big ad agencies that are used to dealing with mainstream media buys with large audiences. Going for the gold now may create a bubble that backfires if vertical ad networks take off slower than expected.

(Full disclosure -- I'm the co-founder of a rich media publishing company that sells ads on blogs, so I understand these challenges and am taking a different approach.)

Blog Networks Have Big Dreams By John Gartner at 08:40 AM
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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Splogs Screw With Search

There's nothing more annoying during web surfing that clicking on a natural seach result and seeing a page of pay per click ads and text hijacked from other sites.

Splogging - the "art" of stealing content from other sites and generating revenue from PPC ads hurts everyone. From the publishers who lose traffic because of their stolen content to the advertisers who are paying for clicks that may not be related to genuine content, we all pay.

According to data from Technorati cited here, up to 99 percent of blogs are splogs. Google and the other search engines must do a better job at automatically recognizing these charlatans and removing the content from the search pool.

Publishers work hard to get on the results pages, and they deserve to be fairly represented. Also, blog platforms need to blacklist anyone how splogs. Perhaps a valid credit card number should be used to prevent free content platforms from being abused.

Splogs Screw With Search By John Gartner at 11:59 AM
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Omniture Updates Analytics, Search Offerings

Omniture introduced a revamped SiteCatalyst 14 today that adds features for tracking the performance of rich media.

The web analytics platform can track the in-stream performance of ads in Windows Media Player, QuickTime and RealPlayer video as well as Adobe Flex 2 and Flash 9 rich media. As advertisers flock to rich media, analytics companies are keeping apace to provide the same granularity that they provide with text and banner campaigns.

The company claims that it can also integrate the results across a variety of distribution platforms include mobile, IPTV, cable boxes and video game consoles. Advertisers are overwhelmed with distribution choices, and Omniture enables them to cross tabulate the results of campaigns to compare their relative efffectiveness. SiteCatalyst 14 can generate reports in Excel, HTML, PDF and Word formats but XML and RSS were missing.

Omniture's SearchCenter 3 search marketing and keyword management applications enables managing multiple keywords based on a variety of metrics including revenue, clicks, and return on investment. The program will project scenarios forecasting future results from search marketing campaigns.

SearchCenter3 integrates both paid and natural search results to simultaneously track keyword performance. API's enable data to be automatically culled from Google, Yahoo, MSN and MIVA.

Omniture Updates Analytics, Search Offerings By John Gartner at 11:52 AM
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Monday, March 03, 2008

Video Ads In Search of Standards

This is the year that web video and distribution platforms will mature and have their necessary shakeout. As Steve Robinson points out, there are too many proprietary players and ad technologies to allow advertisers to cost-effectively distribute content.

The online ad industry has agreed on a select few sizes for display ads. Video advertising needs a similar discernible group of standards if the projections for huge growth in video ad sales are to be realized.

The Interactive Advertising Bureau can provide some leadership (as it is doing with tracking video ad performance), but the market will ultimately decide which players and ad technologies will survive. Advertisers need to create one video ad that can be distributed far and wide. If the ad network has its own properitary limitations, it will be their problem to fix if they want content to run.

Video Ads In Search of Standards By John Gartner at 11:33 PM
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Software as a Service Challenges Microsoft

Microsoft made another announcement about how the company continues to move towards distributing applications online as services rather than the "out of box" experience that built the company.

Most of Microsoft's success has been because of its marketing prowess; therefore, marketing and not technology will determine its success in getting into the Salesforce/SAP type services field. Yes, the technology is different, and the sales channels are different, but many of Microsoft's customers will be happy to try them out as a services vendor because they recognize the breadth of productions, likely integration with existing products -- and best of all, when something goes wrong, it's on the backend, which means it is clearly Microsoft's problem.

Imagine -- getting the industry standard benefits of using Microsoft's database and email technologies, to name a few, and it's up to Microsoft to keep the applications at your fingertips at all times, not your IT department.

In most areas, Microsoft's software isn't the best, but it's good enough, so the company will have to compete on price and reliability if it wants to win in the relatively new world. Renting versus selling will mean less cash up front for Microsoft, and the company will have to work harder to keep customers. But if they can deliver a good product as service, they mind find increasing loyalty because customers will keep coming back without the same level of installation headaches.

How well Microsoft conveys its marketing message to its existing customer base will decide if Microsoft's future will be brighter or darker in the days ahead.

Software as a Service Challenges Microsoft By John Gartner at 09:48 PM
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Getting Off of AdSense

AdSense is the K-Mart of advertising networks. It's cheap enough and will accept everyone, but you would never brag about going there.

It's amazing that AdSense continues to be on so many websites when the targeting is poor, the click-throughs abominable, and the payouts minimal.

How does Google do it? Volume. There are remainder networks like Blue Lithium with slightly higher CPMs, but only slightly.

Video-driven sites that rely on AdSense have it even tougher since content costs more and people tend to not do so much clicking around. Thankfully ProBlogger offers a dozen alternatives to AdSense including video ad networks.

New media such as widgets, video and Flash all require unique advertising solutions to give publishers a fighting chance to make a buck. The innovations are being developed, so don't sell yourself short by resorting to AdSense unless you don't have another option.

Getting Off of AdSense By John Gartner at 12:04 AM
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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fry's Policy: Your Purchase, Your Problem

I had the misfortune of buying some computer equipment at Fry's this weekend, and it turned into a journey through Dante's 5 rings of customers disservice hell.

I bought a memory upgrade for a laptop and a new wireless card. The memory was recognized and Windows was happy, so next came the wireless card. Oops -- blue screen of death during the software install, and then lots of memory and driver errors that disabled my machine. All this less than 48 hours before I head out of town for a conference.

So I spent a few hours finding my Windows XP system disk and booting into safe mode so that I could remove the software that came with the card. Alas, still repeated crashes and driver/memory errors.

I went back to the store, and asked for help, and they said they'd be glad to help me if I wanted to pay $99 for a diagnostic that would take several days. (In other words, pound sand.) I explained how I had just purchased a product from them that disabled my computer, and they wanted $99 to undo the damage -- or at even to take a look at the computer.

They referred me to returns, who took back the wireless card, and told me to call the vendor if I wanted to complain about it trashing my system.

I went home agitated, and while considering wiping the entire computer, I remembered that the memory they sold me was an "open box" item, but they assured me it was good as new and under warranty. So I pried out the memory, restarted, and voila, no more system crashes.

Thanks tech geniuses at Fry's for nothing.

So, I went to Best Buy, bought a new memory module, and then went to Fry's for the third time in the day, and got my money back.

I won't be shopping at Fry's ever again. It's ridiculous that a company will sell you something defective and not stand by the product or try to help you undo the damage. I'm glad Fry's doesn't sell power saws, since they would send you home bleeding and tell you to call the manufacturer.

This is yet another lesson in how for many companies, customer service is a thing of the past. Marketing to keep customers is a lost art.

Fry's Policy: Your Purchase, Your Problem By John Gartner at 11:28 PM
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March 2008 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (10 entries) March 1-8
  • Week 2 (10 entries) March 9-15
  • Week 3 (10 entries) March 16-22
  • Week 4 (10 entries) March 23-29
  • Week 5 (0 entries) March 30-31

Microsoft Should Give Up On Yahoo
I agree. Either Microsoft needs to raise its bid s...
by GLW

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