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September 2008 Marketing Archives

Friday, September 05, 2008

Perseus' service offfers better tools for independent writers

For decades, novice writers have sought  a level playing field, and thanks to the power of Perseus Book Group, independent authors can utilize the digital tools that were only available to major publishers in the past . A new service called Constellation ., which provides access to electronic readers,digital book search, print-on-demand.

From the New York Times' article:

Unlike large publishers, small ones typically lack the resources to use digital technology and as a result often bypass it altogether.David Steinberger, the president and chief executive of Perseus, said that by using Constellation independent publishers could make their books quickly available in several digital formats, allowing them to compete on the same technological level and with the same speed and flexibility as larger companies. ...Distribution means getting our publishers’ books everywhere they need to go and everywhere they want to go, he said. Digital is an essential part to that. We’re just trying to streamline it.

Partners in the deal include Google, Amazon, Sony; Barnes & Noble, for its See Inside feature on its Web site; and Lightning Source, a print-on-demand company.

 Of course, with  greater growth comes the need for stronger organization. For example, the App.Store created a books section, with approximately 170 titles, but it failed to create a sub-category for each book genre. As a result, when I browse the books section, there's no quick reference to any genre. The titles are listed vertically, with subjects ranging from Scie to classic literature.

Perseus specializes only in books, so it can devote its entire focus to the writers, rather than thousands of random applicatIons. The key question is- how far will the average reader have to dig to find the small-author books among the flurry of best sellers. That's where Perseus will have to deliver on its promise. The NYT article continues:

Publishers who use the new service can provide a single digital book file to Constellation and specify how they would like it to be used. As a result consumers may see more obscure, esoteric books available in digital formats, Perseus said.

Only time will tell if Perseus' venture can revolutionize the book-publishing industry.

Perseus' service offfers better tools for independent writers By Matt O'Hern at 02:49 PM
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Thursday, September 04, 2008

TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes

TrueBlood HBO Series on VampiresAbout 2 months ago I received a package at my house (note: not my office), inside the bubble wrap envelope was a vile of what looked like marchiano cherry syrup. Also in the envelope was a small card with Japanese writing on it with the url www.trublood.jp or something close (I threw it all away because, although I knew it was the beginning of a viral campaign, it was simply too vague and the site was entirely in Japanese). After all, my mom taught me to not take candy from strangers and I think it's safe to say that includes taking synthetic blood beverages in viles from unmarked packages that arrive in your mail (hooda thunkit?!). Well, the entire mystery of who, what and why I received the synthetic blood beverage was unraveled a couple of weeks ago when I received an even larger package from an HBO PR firm that was responsible for the viral marketing campaign of HBO's new vampire series called TrueBlood. I do find it interesting that we may be starting to see the beginnings of a new trend where comic books are used (sent to a select group of targeted bloggers and viral seed planters) to get the word out about new products and services. After all, HBO sent me this new comic book about True Blood and just this week Google used a comic book to not-so-secretly launch Google Chromium, their new web browser. HBO has spent a small fortune on marketing this show and making sure it has the potential to become a cult hit. They have launched the following sites in support of the Tru Blood brand which I find very interesting. Blood Copy Skype LogoBlood Copy Chronicles the amazing days we live in as vampires attempt to integrate with humans. With the advent of Tru Blood, a synthetic blood substitute, vampires have decided to announce their presence and exist among us openly. This website chronicles the amazing days we live in as vampires attempt to integrate with humans. I love the blood spattered version of the Skype logo, nice touch. American Vampire LeagueAmerican Vampire League The American Vampire League is the largest organization in the United States dedicated to promoting the equality and civil liberties of vampires. The AVL takes a three-pronged approach: lobbying for the Vampire Rights Act at state and national levels, disseminating accurate information about vampires to the general public and offering guidance to vampires seeking to mainstream. Each of these efforts supports one ultimate mission: To eradicate the fear and hatred of vampires that is caused by both widespread misinformation and an entire race's punishment for the crimes of a few. Since the discovery and marketing of synthetic blood, there is no longer any reason for vampires to remain hidden — or to be shunned or discriminated against. To humans we say: Vampires are your neighbors, your nightwatchmen, your ancestors. And to my fellow vampires: It's time we all come out of the darkness. Let's learn to live together without fear. Fellowship Of The SunFellowship of The Sun Just say no to the vampire rights ammendment, this catchy line sits on top of this FrontPage-esque non-profit vampire site. The Fellowship of the Sun (FoS) is a grass-roots organization pledged to protect humanity from the vampire scourge. These Creatures of Darkness (CoDs) threaten not only our very existence with their perverted craving for human blood, but they also undermine our way of life, sullying our communities with their routine acts of hedonism and cruelty. While certain "free thinkers" battle for the "rights" of these monsters to infiltrate and degrade the human species, the FoS is committed to bringing truth to the public. Every vampire is a proven mass murderer and has no place on our streets or in our society. Wake up to the reality of the CoD agenda: They're not a soul-challenged "new minority." They're an ancient menace. Social Networking / Dating Site for Vampires - Lovebitten Lovebitten Vampire and Human Dating Site What vampire do you know that doesn't belong to Lovebitten, the official dating site of all eligible vampires. Oh yeah, vampires and humans are both welcome here :) I could go on and on about the other sites HBO has created but I'll wrap it up with the True Blood Wiki. Honestly I thought MySpace was the ultimate in social media time wasting, but now a wiki created to support a tv show, I think this is where the viral group behind the show went overboard. Regardless, this is a fairly large commitment on the part of HBO to engage the internet as it's primary audience and most importantly the initial point of insertion for it's grass roots viral marketing campaign and I think it was a wise move indeed. The only issue I have with most of these sites, as with most other web sites that HBO launches to support a new or existing series, is the blatant lack of search engine optimization. Most of the sites are in flash and have duplicate content penalties and nearly 0 indexable content to speak of. I think that's the final frontier for all companies making a major marketing shift from offline to online though, to tame the search engine optimization beast. It's a difficult task to put together a well-formed site that is visually appealing while at the same time being able to get Google love and all the free-targeted traffic you can eat but it absolutely CAN be done.

TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes By Jason Dowdell at 11:01 AM
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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

OffbeatGuides.com Travel Guide Review

Offbeat GuidesI'm sure most of you have heard about Dave Sifry's latest venture, OffbeatGuides, and some of you may even have access to the current beta of the system. For quite some time I've wanted to post a review of Offbeat Guides but couldn't find the time... as I was starting my week vacation two days after taking the system for a spin. But alas, I've made the time and will make this an atypical review as I'd like to do a bit of review on Mr. Sifry himself.

Most of you know Dave Sifry as the founder and former CEO of Technorati and that he fell under harsh criticism for the infrastructure issues that plagued the pioneering blog search engine. However, there is another side that I don't believe has had any light shed on it and I think it's about time Senor Sifry got a pat on the back rather than a knife in it.

Quick Review of OffbeatGuides
I like the fact that you type in your destination and the guide generation system walks you through a handful of key steps, asking key questions like "What city do you live in" (important if you're driving to the new location ;). Your travel dates: probably obvious but this is used to generate weather forecasts and I'm sure at some future date to offer advertisers the ability to market to folks who will be in their destination at that time as well as offer seasonal advice. Then you enter either the hotel you're staying in or the street address of the place you're renting. This step is absolutely ripe for the advertising for large hotel chains but I also think they should partner up with TJ & the gang at FlipKey since FlipKey has one of the largest vacation rental databases and they have more reviews of vacation home rental agencies than anyone on the planet... Oh and they just got a big investment by TripAdvisor, which we all know is owned by Expedia so that partnership wouldn't be too bad either.

Once you've finished answering the 5 questions, which takes 2 - 4 minutes tops, then you're presented with an outline of the customized travel guide created specifically for you. You can click on each of the chapters and get a preview of the information contained in it and now you can even add your own chapter... this is great if you're planning a trip for your family and want to make some notes and would like to send everyone in the family an official "Dowdell Family 2008 Vacation Guide" complete with rules and prizes. I'm only partially joking but it is quite neat.

In the version I used back in June I did find that there were a few blank pages in the printed version of the guide that arrived at our house as well as the pdf version but the guide was quite nice.

Some Recommendations
One thing I wish it had was a listing of all of the grocery stores in the area. No matter where we go on vacation to as a family, the first place we hit is the local grocery store and if that information was automagically generated in the guide it would be superb. There are many other features I'd like to see in it such as iPhone integration for the "top 10 things we MUST do on vacation" in order to avoid arguments 2 days after being on vacation so that mama gets to do her top 2 items and papa gets to do his and the girls can do theirs. All in all, I think this is a solid product with some great features and I think Dave is doing the right thing by taking it slow and not rushing this baby out into full blown production just yet.

Kudos to Dave and Crew
I'd like to shift the focus a bit now onto Dave himself and his ability to get those around him passionately involved and committed to a project because I believe that skill has been overlooked during his time at Technorati and he deserves big props.

While I was beta testing OffbeatGuides I ran into a bug and didn't see a way to file a bug with the OG team so I thought, well heck, Dave is a pretty personal guy so I bet his email is such and such @ offbeatguides.com. Well, I fired off an email (with detailed buggy behavior I was experiencing) at 8:22 PM and Dave responded at 8:39 PM saying that I was right, it was a regex issue and I can give it another try. It took him 17 minutes to respond with a well formed email and his developers had fixed my issue, moved it to production and was ready for me to test it again!!!! That is simply amazing customer service. So my hat is off to Dave because I remember him doing the same thing when he was at Technorati. He'd responded promptly to all requests I made and assigned engineers on the spot to ensure prompt issue resolution. So I would like to close by offering my sincerest wishes of best luck to Dave and his team, I know they'll do great.

OffbeatGuides.com Travel Guide Review By Jason Dowdell at 09:03 AM
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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

AT&T iPhone 3G Survey Decrypted

Last Thursday (August 30, 2008) I received an email from the AT&T Research Team [research(at)att-research(dot)com] with the subject line of "AT&T Wants to Know More About Your iPhone 3G". I purchased the 3G iPhone approximately two weeks earlier, making this my 3rd iPhone to date. More on the first two later. I have included all of the questions below and put an [x] next to my answer for each question.

Welcome new iPhone 3G customer! We would like to better understand your experience with the purchase process, activation, set-up and use of your new iPhone 3G! All information you provide will be kept confidential within AT&T and will not be used for any sales or marketing purposes, nor will it be sold to any other company. Thank you for your support of AT&T!


Haha, does this mean they aren't going to share it with Apple either? Does Apple even have rights to conduct their own surveys of AT&T customers since they are also technically Apple customers as well?

I thought it fairly interesting to see that AT&T is already asking for feedback on the latest incarnation of the iPhone but I found the first question to be the most interesting.

Q1.) Which of the following best describes you?
  • I am currently an employee of AT&T

  • I am currently an Apple employee

  • [x] I do not work for either AT&T or Apple


So what this tells me is they have no way of identifying AT&T or Apple employees at the time they activated their iPhones, that's just odd and signifies no forethought by the marketing team on AT&T's side.

Q2.)    
Have you or someone else in your household recently started using an iPhone 3G?

  • [x] Yes, I recently purchased and started using an iPhone 3G

  • Yes, someone else in my household recently started using an iPhone 3G

  • Yes, I recently received an iPhone 3G as a gift

  • No one in my household has recently purchased or received an iPhone 3G

  • Don't Know


I don't even get this question... shows me that the data they collect as part of the purchase and activation process in the AT&T retail stores is terrible and this question should be answered by them internally without having to waste their customers' time.

The next two questions are targeted at determining satisfaction rates and whether or not I'd recommend the phone to someone else for purchase.

Q3.)How satisfied are you with the iPhone 3G, overall?
  • [x]8 (satisfied)


Honestly, I guess the phone is better than the previous 2 iphones I had but I have found the 3G speed to still be somewhat lacking. And the GPS feature obviously goes through cell towers instead of directly to a satellite (like all other gps services) because it's often inaccurate and super duper slooooooooooooooow!

Q4.)    
How likely are you to recommend the iPhone 3G to friends or family?

  • Definitely will not

  • Probably will not

  • [x] Might or might not

  • Probably will

  • Definitely will


The above recommendation question is a bit lame because it lacks any context. For instance, if my grandmother asked me if she should purchase an iPhone I'd tell her absolutely not, save your money for the Garden Club. But if my office manager asked me if she should purchase one I'd say she absolutely should since it would mean I could reach her easier via IM/SMS and she'd be able to check email no matter where she is without having to take her laptop with her.

Q5.)    
How would you rate the value of the iPhone 3G based on the price you paid?
      
  • Very poor value

  • Somewhat poor value

  • Average value

  • [x]Fairly good value

  • Very good value


Well, I bought the 16gig iPhone, although I honestly don't know why, probably an issue with my ego I suppose, and for $300 I think it's an okay price... but only because I paid nearly 2x that for the other 3 phones I purchased which were the 8 gig version 1 models. I also said it was a fairly good value since the phone is actually a computer with a solid state drive and I've found nothing else on the market that can compare to this functionality for the price.

The next 3 questions deal with my perception of Apple, AT&T and AT&T's 3G network. I'll spare you the full details of all of the questions and my answers so here is the abbreviated version.

Q: How has the iPhone 3G met your expectations?
A: About the same as expected

Q: How has your experience with the iPhone 3G affected your opinion of Apple?
A: Neutral

Q: How has your experience with the iPhone 3G affected your opinion of AT&T?
A: Neutral

One of the questions later in the survey asked me where I purchased the phone... this is just a result of terrible communication between AT&T's Market Research arm and their corporate finance office... either that or the finance office is trying to determine whether or not they should continue with the AT&T research arm since they can get all of the same answers from their own client database. Either way it doesn't present AT&T in a good light to the tech community since they're asking us for the same data we already gave when we handed over the $300 for the new phone.

All in all I'd say AT&T needs to dig into their own databases prior to sending out surveys that really just waste our time. That and I think Apple needs to open up use of the iPhone with other carriers but I have no idea how long or when that will be a possibility.

AT&T iPhone 3G Survey Decrypted By Jason Dowdell at 02:12 PM
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September 2008 Week 2 »

  • Week 1 (4 entries) September 1-6
  • Week 2 (10 entries) September 7-13
  • Week 3 (11 entries) September 14-20
  • Week 4 (11 entries) September 21-27
  • Week 5 (2 entries) September 28-30

TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes
True Blood has been a consistently entertaining sh...
by Travis
TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes
I love the show, I've read all the bo...
by Kim
AT&T iPhone 3G Survey Decrypted
Jason you're the man!...
by Kas
TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes
I have never seen this programme, but im sure it&a...
by Olivia
TrueBlood HBO's Vampire TV Show Taking Viral Marketing to Extremes
HELP! I missed the last episode and it dosent come...
by Angie R

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