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July 2008, Week 3 Marketing Archives

Friday, July 18, 2008

Telegraph Digital Drops Office, Picks Up Google Apps

I've been hearing rumbling in the last few months about Google's move to Web-based software applications for business that are clones of Microsoft's Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, ect).

I've been using Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets for about a year in my classes, which gives students direct access to my notes and other information instead of keeping everything locked on my computer.

And, of course, it's free.

Turns out businesses are starting to get their hands around that whole "it don't cost nothing" idea as well. The Telegraph Media Group announced it was phasing out Microsoft Office products and migrating to Google's applications.

On the surface it doesn't seem like a big deal. But it is. If companies can get comparable solutions for their desktop applications for free, that's going to be a major blow to Microsoft's corporate sales. That's the take from IT Pro, a British-based website for well, IT professionals.

Even more distressing for Microsoft, the move comes as Telegraph overhauls its website as well. In other words, as the company was re-examining its online presence it also evaluated its online presence within its own walls. As companies look to cut costs on technology while expanding their online reach, it's likely we'll see more of this migration of office products to the Web.

Telegraph Digital Drops Office, Picks Up Google Apps By Brad at 10:37 AM
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The Importance (and Unimportance) of Online Video

There's a perception that reaching people online translates into a quantifiable offline response.

Right now, that's just a perception and not a reality. Creating a strong online community doesn't necessarily translate into sales as the folks who marketed the movie Snakes on a Plane found out. But that doesn't mean you can ignore what happens online. It just means we're not quite finished putting all the pieces of the puzzle together.

For instance, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama completely dominated the world of online video in terms of content produced, vides and messaging; however, that didn't necessarily translate into an overwhelming victory at the polls.

Now you could easily argue that his messaging was a big part of the reason he could generate so much continued interest -- particularly when his campaign was lagging at the beginning. And that may be true.

What researchers at the Pew Internet & American Life Project have found is that most people used political websites not for the viral videos produced by campaigns, but to watch -- and find out -- where there candidates stand on issues.

Does that translate to other sectors? I don't know, but my guess is that it does. We use the Web as an information collection source.

In other words, a smart marketing person will tell you they won't make viral video for your product because we're finding that while people enjoy the entertainment factor, what they are really looking for is a smart, informative answer to some question they have.

The Importance (and Unimportance) of Online Video By Brad at 09:58 AM
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Sony looks to online store to even score

The battle to dominate living room entertainment rages on, and as a result, Sony Playstation is confronting challenges it never faced in the late 90s and early 2000s.
During Sony's best years, Nintendo and Microsoft didn't offer anything different to gamers, but as the game consoles have upgraded their capabilities,the gaming audience has also evolved.

Sony now faces competition from a fourth rival, as Apple now offers games for the Iphone.
Video game companies no longer devote the bulk of their focus to the 8-18 year-old.Since consoles now double as DVD players and, in Sony's case, Blue Ray players, every member of a family, from the grandkids to the grandparents, can entertain themselves.
As Brad's July 14 post mentioned, Microsoft's XBox pinned its flag on Netflix online movie rentals.

Not to be overshadowed by its rival, Sony launched its online store on Tuesday.Similar to  Itunes, Sony's online store will offer games,movies, movie trailers and interactive media to its users. 300 movie sand 1,200 shows are already available, with content from Sony Pictures, Fox Films, MGM, Warner Bros., Disney , Turner Entertainment and Funimation.

Gamers won't find much of price difference compared to Apple,  with Sonny's Movie rentals will starting at $2.99; and $9.99 as price floor for movies.

If Apple,Microsoft, Nintendo and XBox continue to expand their roles in home entertainment, we may reach the point where the term "gamer" is as antiquated as Atari and Pac Man.

Sony looks to online store to even score By Matt O'Hern at 08:43 AM
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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Rising Costs Prompt School Districts to Create Online High Schools

I spend a lot of my time following and writing about how technology is changing the way we go about our lives. I even run a college program training students how to use and apply emerging technologies.

Yet it's never crossed my mind that high schools may be looking at ways to teach some of their courses online -- thus eliminating overhead by combining students from different districts. I don't know why I haven't thought about it particularly since the cottage industry of distance online tutors has grown so much.

In Pennsylvania, there are 11 cyber high schools with an enrollment of 7,500 students -- some with traditional backgrounds others are children of military parents or athletes who travel.

By offering online courses, districts can retain the money they receive from the state -- essentially using that money for their brick-and-mortar school by contributing some portion of its labor to the cyber school.

Confused? Economics for these ventures can be. The take-away: the cyber schools give students, parents and districts more flexibility in the classes the offer and the times when students can taken them.

That's the new world economy we've been hearing about for a decade or more.

The cyber high school trend is catching on it seems as Oregon just passed legislation that would fund its second charter school.

Rising Costs Prompt School Districts to Create Online High Schools By Brad at 03:27 PM
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Internet Coupon Use Jumps 83 Percent; Mobile Coupons Coming

Clipping coupons isn't something that has ever particularly excited me. In fact, I hate it. I can't keep track of them. I never know when I've bought something I have a coupon for. And I always lose them whenever I'm shopping.

The reality, though, is that most people don't have the organizational issues I do. I know this because every major category for coupon clipping has climbed since 2005; however none have experienced the growth that online coupons have -- even if that category continues to bring up the rear in terms of use.

So why then am I excited about 11 percent of the market?

Because of the possibilities for mobile and Web-based coupons are limitless. Having a centralized repository of all online coupons would be a wonderful place for people -- and it would likely draw a massive crowd.

Particularly in this economy.

There's already a move afoot (pdf) to create a mobile platform for coupon delivery. Last month, Yahoo jumped into the game with a mobile coupon partnership. I know I receive all of my Border's coupons on my mobile phone, allowing me to shop and receive discounts without lugging around a stuffed envelope. In fact, I give all of my paper coupons away because I know I'll never use them.

With geo-location devices becoming standard issue on most phones -- that's GPS to regular folks -- I'd expect to see a new spate of services that target you where you are, giving companies the ability to offer up to the second deals.

Internet Coupon Use Jumps 83 Percent; Mobile Coupons Coming By Brad at 03:10 PM
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China may help Android catch Iphone late in the race

Whether it's in sports or business, the most successful teams and companies  peak at the right time. In some cases, the best rally occours in the late stages of the game.

A perfect example is the NCAA basketball tournament, where a team can catch fire over a six-game span to streak its way to the championship. Google hopes to make a similar rally  in the race to first place for cell phones.

Google's Android phone will be a late entry in the race against Iphone, but if the race proves to be a marathon, not a sprint, Google could prove to be more than just the comeback kid, but the permanent leader of the pack.
 Bill Hughes, a principal analyst at market research firm In-Stat, believes China's market could  be the special weapon Google needs to surpass Apple's Iphone sales. Nearly half of China's population subscribes to wireless service, and the Chinese government is overhauling to 3G (third-generation) technology that will most likely target Linux.

To put the Chinese potential market into perspective, Hughes believes that the Android will  triple Apple's total by 2012, with an estimated total of 96.9 million units sold. Google and China formed controversial alliances that made major headlines when Google agreed on censorship laws, and that flexibility may have earned them an early favor with the Chinese government.

Of course, all the parnterships and contracts are meaningless if the company forgets to prioritize the quality of the actual product. Switching over to an new,unproven device may be a frightening prospect for the millions of devoted Iphone users who have developed almost all of their daily routine around their Iphone. The China forecast also assumes the nation will rebound from its recent slump.

Only time will tell the true winner.

China may help Android catch Iphone late in the race By Matt O'Hern at 08:51 AM
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Microsoft Now Wooing America Online (But So is Yahoo)

You would think after entering into a disastrous relationship with a technology company, Time Warner wouldn't be all that excited about doing a deal with the uber-tech company, Microsoft, but that's apparently what's being bandied about today.

Time Warner is ready to ditch much of what you know as AOL, instead rebranding the system as an online advertising network -- all the rage these days; meanwhile, Microsoft is looking for a way to broaden its content strategy online, creating a competitor to Google's massive network, which it can in turn monetize with -- you guessed it -- an advertising network.

While it makes sense to me, I'm in the minority here according to a poll over at ZDNet. At 4:53 today, 60 percent of respondents said the potential deal either would make no difference to Microsoft's attempt to compete with Google or would be sillier than a proposed deal with Yahoo. Only 11 percent believed the deal would position Microsoft as a content player.

The ironic part: Yahoo is also courting AOL, hoping to score its content and advertising network as well, making it the logical competitor to Google.

What does it all mean? Right now it means Google is wiping the table with its competition and no company believes it has the technology at its disposal to change that. So Yahoo, Microsoft and AOL -- the Holy Trinity of tech companies -- are desperately looking for a way to elevate its stature without giving up one of the Big Four seats at the table.

Microsoft Now Wooing America Online (But So is Yahoo) By Brad at 04:57 PM
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"Buffy" Writer's Webisodes Crash Server

You know you're a badass when so many people try to download your video that you crash servers (unless you're running a server in your basement, then it's just kind of sad).

That's exactly what happened today when Joss Whedon -- the uber-geek writer behind Buffy, the Vampire Slayer and Firefly -- released a straight-to-Web video series penned during the writer's strike called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-Long Blog".

The series, which stars Nathan Fillon and Neil Patrick Harris, didn't just crash the site's servers, it also crashed mainstream sites like Hulu, a site that hosts current television programs like The Daily Show and mainstream movies.

In other words, Whedon's goofy musical webisode is more popular than the most popular television show and movie right now.

E gads.

The story, which was shot professionally to look low budget (got that), follows Harris' character's attempt to get into the Evil League of Evil. With music.

It's nice to see that while Hollywood and Google are trying to co-exist so that we can all gobble up the mainstream entertainment (and we love our mainstream entertainment), folks like Whedon are successfully finding ways to connect with fans -- and deliver good entertainment just for the heck of it.

And with 200,000 downloads an hour, seems like there's a pretty good market for Web-based awesomeness.

"Buffy" Writer's Webisodes Crash Server By Brad at 04:46 PM
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sears Attempts to create "Cool" Image with Social Networks

In the early 1970s, Mountain Dew was marketed as a moonshine-type product complete with hillbilly characters on the bottling.

I know this because I'm from Appalachia and it was talked about quite often. In the late 1970s, though, the company realized that it didn't have much of a future with that market. So, they updated their promotions and targeted the young, college market.

Sears, one step above K-Mart for many, is hoping to change its image with a similar makeover; however, the company is using social networks instead of slick television ads and repackaging.

One of its first offerings in the new "lounge" site is a 5-part musical called "Don't Just Go Back. Arrive." starring High School Musical's Vanessa Hudgens that tracks her shopping excursion to Sears to buy clothes for school. (That Hudgens became "Internet famous" for a series of leaked photos of her naked shouldn't escape the ironic eye.)

This follows on the Sears' foray into the Facebook social networking site, in which the company asked girls who bought prom dresses to share their experiences (re: retail choices) with their friends.

Regardless of where you come down on the commerciality of the moves, it's clear Sears is hoping to become a newer, hipper version of its old self.

 

Sears Attempts to create "Cool" Image with Social Networks By Brad at 02:55 PM
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12 Billion Videos Watched Online -- In May

2008 is the year of online video.

143 million unique users -- about three-quarters of the U.S. audience -- watched some form of online video in May, according to ArsTechnica (which is quoting comScore).

I'm always dubious of numbers that tell me 3 out of 4 people watch online video because there are four people in my family and I know 3 of them don't watch video online; however, the reality is that the growth of video can't be denied -- from goofy YouTube clips to television and film streams at Hulu.com.

Still the question remains: how do you make money off this?

The nascent video advertising industry is still small, roughly $1.3 billion so far this year. That's not much bang for the buck considering how many -- and how much -- people are watching.

The business reality, though, is that people are migrating from traditional platforms to emerging platforms -- the PC and the mobile device -- quickly and as that is happening, more advertising money is being shifted online.

As the recession settles in (if we are indeed in a recession), expect to see less money spend on traditional models and more money spent on interactive, immediate return-on-investment models such as the Web.

12 Billion Videos Watched Online -- In May By Brad at 02:42 PM
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Airlines sell ad space on boarding passes

As airline's continue to battle the pressure of rising fuel prices and the sagging economy, Delta's latest cost-cutting move may prove to be the beginning of  a new trend in travel marketing, or just another source of annoyance to customers.

It doesnt feature pricey-peanuts or baggage fees, instead, your boarding pass will also serve as ad space.

The change was implimented by Sojern Inc, out of Omaha, which also signed the deal with Continental, United and U.S. Airways.According to WSJ' s article Sojern claims the ads won't appear until the final step of the online booking process, where customers will have the option to click on a box which prevents the ads from being printed with the ticket.

Analysts and customers may view the move as desperate, but compared to other methods,such as Ryanair's technique of placing ads on overhead bins, it's only a subtle change. USA Today asked reader's for their opinion on the new ads, and judging from the mixed reaction,  it's hard to determine if this new method will utimately become a standard practice by every airline.

Personally, the airline industry's  overall approach reminds me of a scene from the 1994 film,Major League 2, when the Cleveland Indians' desperate owner plastered every square inch of the outfield wall with advertisements, prompting radio broadcaster Harry Doyle's (played by Bob Uecker) memorable quote:

"The outfield walls now look like the yellow pages. And any of you folks having trouble finding a good proctologist, might want to come down here and check out the area around the 375 foot sign."

The simple fact is, customers hate the extra fees when they're already shelling out hundreds of dollars just for the ticket. If airlines can find alternatives to boost revenues, rather than piling on the extra fees, they might discover the route back to success and customer satisifaction.

Airlines sell ad space on boarding passes By Matt O'Hern at 08:34 AM
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Monday, July 14, 2008

Microsoft Xbox 360 Streams Netflix Movies, Snags Living Room

The intrepid digerati no longer pays for cable television because most networks now stream their shows online (albeit some are delayed up to a week). In a world where Tivo has changed the paradigm of time -- we watch when we want to -- that's not such a bad thing.

That still leaves some down time, though, particularly in the summer. Microsoft hopes to combat that, at least if you own one of their next-generation game consoles. The company announced at the E3 conference that Xbox 360 owners would now be able to stream movies from Netflix directly to their televisions using.

The folks at Endgadget -- a great geek-bot site -- are skeptical about the initial quality (although they say DVD-quality, which is okay with me), but point out that a new dashboard is coming this fall, which could include an upgrade for content.

For someone like me -- and likely Xbox gamers -- we're used to watching movies and other content streamed online. Five years ago, most of us would have pulled out our hair (I am currently bald); however, better compression technologies and increased bandwidth have solved many of the buffering problems.

The reality is that Netflix is trying to compete with Apple's iTunes, which has a huge install base of fanatical followers, and Blockbuster, which has massive name recognition. By tapping into the game console market -- and choosing Microsoft, which has drawn even in name recognition with Sony and Nintendo -- Netflix has the one thing the other two companies don't have: a direct line to the living room television.

Microsoft Xbox 360 Streams Netflix Movies, Snags Living Room By Brad at 03:27 PM
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Traffic Cams Go Mobile

I'm completely fascinated by the idea of traffic webcams.

There's something about sitting at home and watching the roads that I enjoy. And when I'm running late -- like I oftentimes am -- it's nice to pull up a cam to see whether I need to call ahead or not.

There are several services -- TrafficLand, for one -- that let you check out traffic in major cities. And more and more communities are looking for innovative ways to keep their citizens up-to-date on hot spots.

Of course, the real value of a traffic cam doesn't come when you're sitting at home. It comes when you're on the road.

NBC4 has partnered with 3rd Dimension to make its traffic cams available on mobile devices (which comes with its own set of issues) in the Washington, D.C. area. The idea is to push the real-time video out to the people who need it most: commuters.

The idea of geo-located traffic isn't anything new. GPS firms have created national grids the use real-time data and estimated traffic to create very good traffic pattern maps.

Increasingly, though, cities and states are looking for ways to push this information out to mobile devices.

Traffic Cams Go Mobile By Brad at 10:34 AM
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« July 2008 Week 2 July 2008 Week 4 »

  • Week 1 (8 entries) July 1-5
  • Week 2 (10 entries) July 6-12
  • Week 3 (13 entries) July 13-19
  • Week 4 (14 entries) July 20-26
  • Week 5 (8 entries) July 27-31

Microsoft Now Wooing America Online (But So is Yahoo)
low life bitches...
by pimp c
Internet Coupon Use Jumps 83 Percent; Mobile Coupons Coming
Brad you were right. At Gopons.com, our mobile co...
by Art W.
Internet Coupon Use Jumps 83 Percent; Mobile Coupons Coming
And when you add imaging to text, the options incr...
by Art W.
Rising Costs Prompt School Districts to Create Online High Schools
Hey Gidget: Certainly online learning is going to...
by Brad King
Sears Attempts to create "Cool" Image with Social Networks
Hey Pat: Thanks for reading. Supply chain issue...
by Brad King

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