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May 2008, Week 2 Marketing Archives

Friday, May 16, 2008

Why Gen Y Won't Change the Web

There's lots of talk about the new generation of Web user, the tech-savvy younger who is hip to marketing ploys and understands technology better than anyone over the age of 30.

My friends over at ReadWriteWeb have a long post detailing stories in Entertainment Weekly and BusinessWeek about Generation Y.

I'm also reticent to declare an entire generation ready to do anything. Tech-savvy kids will gravitate towards the Web and social technologies. Others won't. The same with every generation.

I'm a college professor and I teach Media Informatics, which is a degree that combines Web design (HTML, Flash and Maya) with podcasting and non-linear storytelling. What I've found -- informally, of course, is that most of my students grew up with icon-clicked software, but no underlying knowledge of how systems work. Which means in many cases they are as un-savvy as others.

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has done some extremely interesting research in this area, particularly as it pertains to communication. The organization's most recent study on writing found was that most kids see a radical disconnect between what they are doing digitally with how they believe they will be judged in the real world.

So how do those two relate?

It's important to remember that while we need to continue to move forward with innovations and think about how we deliver, consumer and create media, the simple fact is that there is a still a great divide happening.

Why Gen Y Won't Change the Web By brad at 10:02 AM
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Shhhhh…The World Is Talking

We've seen a precipitous change in social media within the last 18 months, a change that is further distancing the first-movers from the mainstream.

New mobile communication networks (Twitter, Brightkite), emerging consumer-run social networks (NING), life-streaming aggregation networks (FriendFeed, SocialThing) and widget-run blogs now allow for quick and easy access to the thoughts of hundreds and sometimes thousands of people.

So when is the correct time to jump in?

The answer: whenever your customers are talking about you.

Mobile communication networks like Twitter will become powerful corporate tools, but not because it will enable you to blast-market your customers. Instead, these emerging social media technologies may be their most useful when you sit back and listen to the voices talking.

For instance, here is a Twitter conversation I had with developers from Brightkite, a geo-location based mobile network, after I posted an unflattering review of their service.

They didn't change my mind, but they certainly had the opportunity to ask me specific questions about why I didn't like the service. While I have stopped using Brightkite, I have a pretty favorable view of their company even though I don't think the service has matured enough for mainstream use.

Shhhhh…The World Is Talking By brad at 09:59 AM
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Thursday, May 15, 2008

McDonald's goes south for new sandwich

Millions of Americans capitalized on McDonald's latest marketing campaign , as the the fast food king unveiled the two latest additions to its sandwhich lineup-the southern style chicken biscuit  and the southern style chicken sandwich, which  were both free with the purchase of a medium drink on May 15.

One of the first things youl'l notice about the southern sandwich is the absence of the classic McDonald's trademark- the sesame seed bun. Instead, they opted for the golden bun,with fried chicken fillet and two pickles on top. The resulting product has a starting resemblence to Chick-Fil-A's classic chicken sandwich, which has golden buns, chicken fillet and two pickles on the bottom.

Did someone say "Mc-Fil-A."? Check out the side-by-side comparision.  McDonald's cleary has no shame  in replicating  in  a competitor's top product.

 A quick overview of the nutrition facts on each item suggests that the Golden Arches are shedding the healthier image they tried to attain through the expansion of their salad selection and the addition of apple slices to the kids menu.

 While other companies such as KFC and Dunkin Donuts are reducing their trans-saturated fats, McDonald's is reverting back to their high-fat recipes that eventually garnered criticism everywhere from Hollywood (See "Super size me") to New York City's board of health, which banned transfats from all menus by July,2008.

 Following McDonald's virtually exact replication, don't be surprised if Chick Fil-A, a much smaller franchise, pursues a lawsuit for copyright infringment. Chick Fil-A, primarily based in the southeast, has only 1,300 stores in 37 states, compared to McDonalds' world-wide empire of 30,000 stores in 119 countries.

In other words, John  Q. Junkfood is much more likely to encounter  a McDonalds during his daily commute.It will be interesting too see how many loyal Chick-Fil-A fans opt for  Ronald's latest creation.Blogger Zach Behrens, a loyal fan of the original at Chick-Fil-A, will sacrifice the extra mileage on his car .

Don't be surpised to see a fast food fight in court within the next few months.

McDonald's goes south for new sandwich By Matt O'Hern at 04:25 PM
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Ask.com's Challenge: Competing With Free

Ask.com has acquired Lexico, the company that owns Dictionary.com, Thesaurus.com and several other reference material properties.

Many people had written off Ask when it laid off 8 percent of its staff earlier this year. This acquisition shows a new focus on answering natural language questions posed by its core demographic -- women over 30.

That's not a bad strategy to differentiate itself from Google and the other engiens except for one fact -- Google already does a pretty good job at this by indexing Wikipedia.org.

It's hard to compete with Wikipedia's ad-free service. it's huge, continues to improve, and Google's algorithm rates it within the first few results. Ask has a chance in this niche, but it's hard to compete with Google's ad network and Wikipedia's comprehensive service.

 

 

Ask.com's Challenge: Competing With Free By John Gartner at 10:00 AM
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Comcast Poised to Become Cross-media Powerhouse

Look out web media companies -- Comcast is coming. The cable giant is continuing its empire building with the acquisition of social site Plaxo.  Plaxo enables people to create a single home page that pulls in content from any and all of their social sites.

Comcast wants to take the social interaction for finding people and sharing content to the set-top box, and the Plaxo acquisition is a big step in that direction. Comcast would like people to spend more time in front of the TV rather than at the keyboard to reverse the current trend.

Based on the acquisitions and strategies exhibited during the past year, Comcast is the most likely company to be able to span the TV to PC media bridge and "own" users in both environments. I'm surprised that Google or Time Warner aren't doing more in this respect to keep up.

Update: I just saw that CBS acquired CNET for $1.8 billion. CBS has been aggressive in integrating TV content online, but this deal is a bit of a head scratcher. I would never have made a connection between the Survivor/CSI crowd and tech publishing, but CBS wanted more of an internet presence. Perhaps they will retool CNET as more of a media and entertainment company beyond the tech box using its existing infrastructure. Weird.

 

 

Comcast Poised to Become Cross-media Powerhouse By John Gartner at 09:35 AM
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Two Worlds of Social Networking

I'm really excited to learn more about Google's new Friend Connect platform for adding social networking features.

Over at Scoblelizer, Robert wrote a long post saying that Friend Connect could compete with Ning, the platform for creating sites around social networking. After Ning's Andreessen replied that he's going after a different market -- consumers rather than corporate -- Scoble changed his tune.

If this is the case, I'm worried about Ning. I see the social networking phenomenon dividing into two camps. The first are a few sites that most of us are on that provide a common ground for connecting. You almost have to be on LinkedIn/Facebook/MySpace if you want to connect to the broadest audience.

The second is that social networking features will be build into websites with good content that would to engage their audience and foster community. This is the world of news publishers, professional associations, and commerce that Friend Connect can target.

I don't believe that there's much of a market for consumer oriented sites that are primarily aimed at building community without some other piece (commerce, news, blogging) for building an audience. People aren't going to go a site just to interact around a common interest. They need some meat to discuss and share. If you want to form community around bowling, bird watching, or Russian literature, then get yourself a group on one of the aforementioned sites.

I see adding layers to an existing site through open protocols like Friend Connect as preferable to a third-party hosted site such as Ning. It will be easier to build, and publishers will have more control.

The Two Worlds of Social Networking By John Gartner at 09:57 AM
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Don't Eulogize Print

I was in print journalism for 8 years before seeing the future and moving primarily to an internet publication 12 years (yikes!) ago. But during my freelancing career of the last 7 years, print as paid more of my bills than the writing for the web, so it clearly ain't dead yet.

So while I believe that the web will continue to dominate as the most influential contributor to current events, magazines have and will always have their place. I wouldn't want to be like the folks at the new mag Dispatches and try build a business in print, though. Getting launched is much tougher in the current economy.

I disagree with Mashable's Stan Schroeder however, on this point.

The printed magazine, content-wise, is just like a web page taken offline: nothing more, nothing less.

Popular print titles like Time and People (ick) will continue to kill trees into the future because the experience of reading a magazine will always be different and preferable for a certain percentage of readers. It's easier to transport, and sometimes it just feels good to be offline and rustle the pages between your fingers.

Magazine style reporting can be more in depth, and something about the experience lets the reader savor the words and reread them if necessary. It is a slower process, and there's something to be said for not jumping to a hyperlink in the middle of an essay or moving on to another website.

Schroeder's main criticism of print -- that articles are a dead end -- has some validity, but sidebars with links that readers can go to later or with content that provides supporting or related information can fill that gap. Magazines are a different beast, but don't throw dirt on their collective coffin just yet.

Don't Eulogize Print By John Gartner at 09:41 AM
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Who Controls Your Online Reputation? You or Google?

Virtually every company encounters a potentially damaging story or expose that exceeds its control at a local,regional or national level. Following the immediate impact, there are two keys to remember for damage control:

  • Monitor the negative press.
  • Take an active role in the flow of information regarding your company.


Navigating through the negative noise during those pivotal moments of poor press can make or break your image and reputation. Prior to a press conference or debate, political advisors often remind their candidates to "control the dialogue", and the same emphasis applies to damage control.

As the company's spin doctor, one of your earliest priorities to remedy the negative press should be to monitor your search engine results on a daily basis, via  Google News and blog search engines like Technorati.
It's crucial to determine if clients and consumers are only seeing the tip of the iceberg when they search for your company name. If your positive side isn't immediately apparent, you could be the Titanic, headed for a cataclysmic disaster. Conversely, if you manage emerging media outlets (blogs) to counterbalance the negative results, you are Tom Cruise (picture crazy guy on Oprah's couch)- able to leap bad press (and couches) in a single bound, and continue on with your career.

One of the easisest and most efficient methods to manage the bad press is to keep your enemy close. Don't hesitate to tackle the issue directly and initiate dialogue with your critics. Sometimes your critics can become your best customers, just ask Steve Jobs.
Easy steps to confront the opposing side include:

  • Contributing to the public dialogue by posting comments on their blog(s)
  • Email, Twitter Direct Message, and dare I say, call them with a telephone (the thing you put up against your ear and speak with)
  • Posting a response on your own corporate blog (as early as possible to put your version of the story out there, hopefully the truth)
  • Being transparent. Sign up for an account on Get Satisfaction and actively participate in the open source support movement and commit company resources to this noble effort.


If your efforts to educate your critics don't evoke the desired response, assert yourself by taking secondary steps such as:

  • Optimizing your own site to enhance your positive image. Yes, we're talking about seo here and we know a few experts if you need one.
  • Updating your blog frequently, varies depending on the amount of change in your industry.
  • Utilizing pay per-click
  • Utilizing social network sites to advance your standing in the top results. Create accounts at popular sites such as Youtube, facebook, Flickr, Myspace, Digg, Reddit, wikipedia, slideshare.net, getsatisfaction.com, create an Amazon profile, wiki.answers.com, what'snext, and Twitter.
  • If applicable (varies based on size of your business) Create profiles on job sites such as: Hotjobs, Indeed.com, Monster and Careerbuilder.

Proactively monitor your company's status on Google using Google Alerts or use a third party application like trackur and monitor several search engines at once in a single interface including Yahoo, Google, Technorati, Bloglines, IceRocket and MSN. As each negative post eats away at your company's reputation like a parasite, it's important to ensure that you've thoroughly checked each area that could be open to potential damage.

Use the following list as a guideline for tracking the negative chatter. Of course modify the list to suit your needs.


Regardless of its character or background, no company is immune to damage from blogs and sites that distribute distorted facts and slanderous propoganda. The following list includes examples of companies which have successfully or unsuccessfully controlled search results from phrases which combine their company name with negative keywords.

    Examples of truth and fiction within search results:
  • True: Oracle layoffs- three of the top 10 google results contain negative remarks from former employees.
  • False: Voxeo has been falsely accused of electronic voting sabatoge.
  • True: Pure Weight Loss and LA weight loss- Was revealed as just another diet.
  • I Dunno: Mrs. Puerto Rico
  • Expedia Scam: There are a few upset folks out there.

 

Who Controls Your Online Reputation? You or Google? By Jason Dowdell at 10:27 PM
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Rhapsody America Not in Harmony

The only thing tougher to make money at than selling music subscription services today might be gas guzzling SUVs.

RealNetworks joined up with MTV to build Rhapsody America, but the joint venture is in deep trouble already. According to PaidContent.org, the companies are admitting the complications of joint ownership.

Joint ventures are tough endeavors because each side brings in its own agenda, and often times they aren't in synch. Heck, they couldn't even get together enough to buy the domain name for the service, and execs are diving off the cliff in droves.

Music subscription services are in trouble because of the ubiquity of free content out there and the ability for people to "share" music. Unless you're captive in your car where the only competition is commercial radio (ick) and the dashboard-connected iPod. Even XM/Sirius are having trouble making that work.

The companies should forget centering on a subscription services and create an ad-supported online/mobile music channel that provides customization and target marketing. Subscription services will never go beyond niche industries, so move on. Leverage the heck out of the MTV brand, build community, and offer unique content (live concerts, etc.) that combine both video and audio elements.

There's isn't a dominant online music service, but there should be.

 

Rhapsody America Not in Harmony By John Gartner at 12:45 PM
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Desktop Search's Slow Fade Into History

Google looks like it will continue to dominate the search industry.  Without a MicroHoo to contend with, GOOG will keep on defining search marketing. Such influence on the market is not the healthiest environment for innovation and for search marketers.

But Search Insider's Steven Baldwin thinks that desktop search will someday be far less significant than search outside of PCs. He thinks that search from consoles, TVs, and mobile will have much more impact (eventually) than desktop search.

Microsoft's impotence in gaining a share of desktop search has now become capitulation, according to Baldwin.

While it may be overstating the case to say that Microsoft has already conceded the desktop-browser search battle to Google, it’s clear that winning this short-term battle is less important than prevailing in the long, multiplatform war that’s to come.

Google does not assume that desktop search will be the world's fattest cash cow forever, but I think it has more milk to give than Baldwin suggests. Desktop search in its existant form will give way to new ways of natural language search, and technologies such as RSS and Wikis are making search less important.

But search from mobile devices and consoles will never be as important to business marketers as the desktop. For the b2b space, looking for information from a PC will remain dominant. Until we find a user interface for mobile devices that is superior to a keyboard, that is.

 

Desktop Search's Slow Fade Into History By John Gartner at 10:04 AM
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Monday, May 12, 2008

Wikipedia + "Ask" Queries = Powerset

A new specialized search engine hopes to establish a following by enabling Wikipedia to offer natural language queries. Powerset mines Wikipedia to extract relevant facts based on questions.

Is this the most niche search engine ever built for public consumption? Ask.com allows similar queries, but doesn't rank Wikipedia very high in its responses. While Wikipedia's search engine is limited, Google has indexed the site well, and it's hard not to get Wikipedia results amongst the top of your results.

So Powerset's task of going up against Google makes David versus Goliath seem easy today. However, as Powerset expands to include more data sources and focuses on factual information, they may have a chance to gain the attention of academics, news junkies, and interested people who want to focus on facts from impartial sources.

Via WebProNews

Wikipedia + "Ask" Queries = Powerset By John Gartner at 09:25 AM
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Google's Social Strategy: Simply Open

The always insightful Dan Farber of News.com has a great first take on Google's just-announced Friend Connect platform for easily embedding social networking features into a website.

Google wants to make adding social features to a website a cut and paste affair, which, along with being associated with the Google brand, is the fastest way to online ubiquity. MySpace and Facebook's social strategies serve them well within their respective environments, but Google's participation in Open Social is the best long term strategy.

While not requiring coding is great, we'll have to see how powerful (aka customizable) Friend Connect is. Google will allow connects to other social services, especially those who have embraced OpenID and Open Social. Google appears to be in it to win it by being as open as possible, and that could reverse the tide towards the API-driven approach for displaying on Facebook and MySpace.

While MySpace and Facebook will do well as their own epicenters of social activity, the distributed approach of adding social features is the future for most publishers, and teaming up with Open Social/Google is a good strategy.

Google's Social Strategy: Simply Open By John Gartner at 09:10 AM
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« May 2008 Week 1 May 2008 Week 3 »

  • Week 1 (14 entries) May 1-10
  • Week 2 (12 entries) May 11-17
  • Week 3 (10 entries) May 18-24
  • Week 4 (8 entries) May 25-31

Desktop Search's Slow Fade Into History
You folks need to work on your terminology. The t...
by Dave Rosenblatt
Why Gen Y Won't Change the Web
Hey Dave: Thanks for stopping by to comment. I a...
by Brad King
Why Gen Y Won't Change the Web
In many ways, our research supports what is writte...
by Dave Burckhard

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