Archive for the 'marketing + advertising' Category

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Amazon ratings and recommendations

I visited today, to buy a book that a colleague recommended to me, and while there, I figured I’d surf around a bit inside Amazon and see if there was anything else I should buy, so I clicked on the “John’s Store” tab at the top of the page.

I then looked at “new items” that Amazon was recommending to me, and I saw this:

Notice that Amazon is recommending this movie based on the fact that I own Mac OS X 10.4?

What’s up with that? lol…

Dreamhost Rocks! New Sale

I can’t say this enough. Dreamhost Rocks!

If you’re looking for a new shared hosting plan, you really ought to check out Dreamhost.

They just started a new sale this month:

From: [email protected]
Subject: [Announcement] New! All Shared Hosting Disk Space Doubled!
Date: September 1, 2005 4:26:34 AM CDT
To: John Engler

Hey Happy DreamHost Disk Hogs!

Starting Monday we began a new sale.. double (the starting) disk space on
all shared hosting accounts. As we’ve been known to do, we’ve also
applied this to all existing shared hosting customers as well!

Keep in mind your overall disk quota total may not quite double, because
of any additional weekly growth your plan may have undergone since you’ve
signed on. BUT, we’ve also doubled the weekly growth rate on all active
shared hosting plans to the following:

Level 1: 40MB/week
Level 2: 80MB/week
Level 3: 120MB/week
Level 4: 160MB/week

There is no action for you to take to get this increase… everything’s
already happened.

I’m not going to detail all of the stuff they offer with each plan, but I’d highly encourage you to check their sale our. Their “one-click installs” of some super useful software alone make it a really great hosting package. I mean where else can you buy a hosting plan for $8 a month, and get up and running within about 15 minutes of starting your hosting plan?

Their super easy to understand and use account control panel is also pretty damned spiffy.

They also pay referral fees for anyone that says you referred them when they sign up (yes, if you follow these links you’ll credit me with the referral). But that’s not the only reason I’m singing their praises… my diskspace with them is going up by 200MBs/week (I have two plans with them). That’s reason enough to sing their praises. Thank you Dreamhost.

Check ’em out and tell them I sent you ;).

Google is an advertising company

John Gruber: Google is an advertising company


Loft News

My friend, Drew Moynihan launched a new website this week: is a website that’ll follow the loft industry and the loft lifestyle as it progresses across the country…

Congrts to Drew in his new endeavor… pretty cool that he’s hanging his own shingle out there again, and I wish him the best of luck.

If you’re interested in the development of the loft industry, as an investor, or a resident, look at

Disturbing memo to marketers

Disturbing memo to marketers


Online Advertising woes

Combine this with this and I think you can start to see a patern. At some level the current non-transparent data collection process is an issue for online advertising market.


Google AdSense TOS changes

A good run down of the latest Google AdSense TOS changes.



phpSiteMapNG – PHP based Site Map generator … use it to create a simple page for Google to crawl so that they see all of your pages.


Communication Nation

Communication Nation from the founder of XPlane. Gotta spend more time reading this latter.


Catalogs make good sales tools

I just read this great article over on

From those 70,000 catalogs sent to people who had never dealt with us before, we’d earn about $70,000 in sales or just about $1 per catalog. Considering that it cost about a $1 just to produce, print and mail each catalog, you’d be right to bet this wasn’t the best way of becoming independently wealthy! But you know that business after business out there–all up and down Main Street, in home offices and on the internet–are doing the exact same thing. They keep using up their marketing budgets trying to attract new prospects–while forgetting all about their old customers.

Now let me tell you what happened to the catalogs sent to the customers who’d ordered from us before. Those 30,000 catalogs would generate, on average, $450,000 in sales. If you’re paying attention–and you should be now–that’s $15 in sales for every catalog we sent out. I bet you could stand a cool $15 return for every dollar you spent on marketing, couldn’t you? The fact is, catalogs are one of the few marketing vehicles I know that, when unleashed on a list of your past customers, can return a bushel basket full of money. The question now becomes, why are catalogs so effective?

The rest of the article just makes sense. I think if I ever had my own business, I’d definitely print my own catalog and send it to past/current customers, so they could see what else my company has to offer them, in a non-confrontational manner.

I know my wife still looks at just about every catalog that comes through the mail slot on the door every day.

Olivier Travers on Contact Forms

Olivier Travers asks a good question here: Are broken contact forms acceptable?

I say no. What do you say?

And, to point out, I finally met Olivier two weeks ago when he came to visit me in Austin. I wish I could have spent more time with he and his wife.

AGAR – Amazon Replacement Ads for Adsense

Wanna make sure that an add shows up on your site when Google’s Adsense can’t deliver an ad? Want it to look similar, and deliver results for you?



Big Beer Ad

Carlton Draught’s Big Beer Ad. Great execution on a WOM marketing campaign. I’d try Carlton today based on this effort.

(Hat-tip to Scoble)

Heavy Paper

I sat in the Admiral’s Club at O’hare airport for 4+ hours today… rediculous how a little rain can totally screw up the air traffic to Texas for that long, but anyways…

I was quite impressed by the paper quality of the New York Times here in Chicago… Amazing paper quality, and I used to work for a newspaper, so I know these things…

If I could get this good of paper with my local paper, I’d think of subscribing again.

It’s funny how the little things matter when you’ve been stuck at the airport bar for this long.

On Branding

Dave Hamilton posted an interesting comment on Branding online with this memorable quote:

“Lose sight of branding, and you lose that customer.”

Read his entry for the whole story behind that quote. Good post Dave.

Heh… Unique Selling Proposition

This Wizard of Ads article is dead on. If you sell media (any kind) read it and learn.

offering people a lesser choice

Sam Decker gives us a lesson in the art of offering people a lesser choice:

Think about the choices we give customers. On a call, a visit to the site, a visit to the store – in that experience are they presented with an alternative to go up or down on any purchase? Do you have enough choices? If so, as marketers we most commonly upsell. But what if you were to downsell? What if you were to present a lesser choice?

If you haven’t noticed, today’s customers are skeptical. They smell marketing like 3-day old fish. You want to build trust? You want to close a sale? Offer the customer a lesser choice which can demonstrably meets their needs in a meaningful way. Give customers a good, better, best choice. Most people will come in on the good, get excited about the best, and close the sale on the better. Perhaps they will spend money with you again, or spend what’s left in their wallet with you in another way.

Good concept… hard for salespeople to do… if you’re a company thinking of doing this, make sure you reward your sales people to do this. Maybe profit sharing, so that if this concept does work for you, and company profits do go up, everyone shares in that success, versus straight commissions of sales revenues, as that won’t incentivize them to offer the lesser options.


Ding! is dangerous. Very Dangerous.

Ding! is Southwest Airlines latest push into the consumer’s life. It’s a desktop application that alerts you to Southwest’s latests travel deals, and it’s wonderful marketing.

This is user invited desktop travel advertising at it’s best folks. I trust Southwest because I’ve never had a bad experience with them. Ever. I downloaded the application because I trust Southwest. I bought 2 tickets on Southwest based on today’s “Ding! deal” that I probably wouldn’t have bought other-wise (we’d have driven) within 20 minutes of downloading the application.

Do not download it, if you like to travel, but don’t like to spend money.

Great job Southwest.


The pervasiveness of Wal-mart

Branding is dead. I agree, buy you know when a brand is really a brand when it invades even the jokes your brother emails you:

One day, in line at the company cafeteria, Joe says to Mike behind him, “My elbow hurts like hell. I guess I better see a doctor.”

“Listen, you don’t have to spend that kind of money,” Mike replies. “There’s a diagnostic computer down at Wal-Mart. Just give it a urine sample and the computer will tell you what’s wrong and what to do about it. It takes ten seconds and costs ten dollars… a lot cheaper than a doctor.”

So Joe deposits a urine sample in a small jar and takes it to Wal-Mart. He deposits ten dollars, and the computer lights up and asks for the urine sample. He pours the sample into the slot and waits. Ten seconds later, the computer ejects a printout:

You have tennis elbow. Soak your arm in warm water and avoid heavy activity. It will improve in two weeks.
Thank you for shopping @ Wal-Mart.

That evening while thinking how amazing this new technology was, Joe began wondering if the computer could be fooled. He mixed some tap water, a stool sample from his dog, urine samples from his wife and daughter, and a sperm sample for good measure. Joe hurries back to Wal-Mart, eager to check the results. He deposits ten dollars, pours in his concoction, and awaits the results.

The computer prints the following:

1. Your tap water is too hard. Get a water softener. (Aisle 9)
2. Your dog has ringworm. Bathe him with anti-fungal shampoo. (Aisle 7)
3. Your daughter has a cocaine habit. Get her into rehab.
4. Your wife is pregnant. Twins. They aren’t yours. Get a lawyer.
5. If you don’t stop playing with yourself, your elbow will never get better.

Thank you for shopping @ Wal-Mart.

Blogcards Discovered

I just discovered Gapingvoid Blogcards by Hugh Macleod.

Fucking awesome idea. Gonna have to order a few.


update: I ordered 100 cards with the above image printed on them and my name and email address on the back… I figure they’ll be great as conversation starters at parties and the like. Figured I’d share that with you all.

K-Mart commercials on TV

I just wanted to point out how funny it was to watch K-Mart commercials when you live in a market where there are no K-Marts anymore. It’s just funny. About a year ago K-Mart pulled completely out of Austin, TX. The closest K-Mart to my house is 1 hour and 20 minutes away. Why are they advertising on TV here in Austin?

No wonder the idiots went bankrupt once already. Buying network Television advertising when you’re not in enough markets to capitalize on the efficiency you supposefly get by buying network TV.

Goal Oriented Marketing

I got this email today from a professional marketing group (emphasis mine):

Dear Marketer,

Please accept our invitation to participate in a short web survey for the American Marketing Association. As a valued member of the industry, we would like your opinions about ways to reach more marketers and increase our membership. Your answers will be kept confidential and will only be used to help guide our strategic planning and assist us in developing a member acquisition offer that is compelling and meaningful.

The survey should only take 5 minutes to complete, and should be fun. Simply click on the link below to visit our survey. If you can’t click on the text below, you can cut and paste it into your URL window.

Here is a link to our survey:

Thank you for your participation,
The American Marketing Association

The problem I have with this email is that they committed the big sin in marketing. They told me:

1. I’m important to them (good)
2. Their goal is to increase their membership (bad)
… all while …
3. Asking me to complete a survey (why should I do this again?)

Why didn’t they instead:

Ask me to complete a survey and tell me what the benefits to completing that survey are to me? I’d probably have answered the survey had they told me what the benefits to me were, but instead, they told me what the benefits to them would be. I could care less about them… and I reckon the rest of you are just like me…

What’s in it for me?

Gotta love it when a professional organization can’t get it right.

Coolest Header I’ve Seen on a ‘News Site’

This is the coolest web page header design on a ‘news’ website I’ve seen in a long time.

On this page, and doubtless on the rest of the International Herald Tribune web pages, they have this really cool header that is the whole header at the top of the page, but becomes just the useful part (the navigational part — minus the ads) as you scroll down the page.

Just wanted to point out that I think it’s a very cool design.

MarketingSherpa Calls for Best Marketing Blog

I’m lazily stealing this post from Rick Bruner:

MarketingSherpa has called for nominations for the best marketing blog:

We’re launching MarketingSherpa’s Reader’s Choice Award for Best Blogs on the subjects of marketing, advertising and PR. A blog must have been regularly updated for at least the past 90 days to be considered. Winners get a review and hotlink from our site, plus a MarketingSherpa Blog Star t-shirt.

To enter a Blog you author, or are a fan of, email our Managing Editor Anne Holland by April 30th. Then we’ll collect reader votes in May (hey it’s a great way to get traffic to your Blog), and announce winners in June. Please put “Best Blog” in the subject line of your nomination email and send to [email protected].

With all due respect, if MarketingVox (aka MarketingFix, Up2Speed, MarketingWonk and MarketingWhatever) fails to win this, there is no justice in the world. Lots of other marketing blogs are good, but MarketingVox simply stomps ass on all of them.

Advertisers and Readers

Angie McKaig again inspires me with “please stop making my eyes hurt“.

Angie underscores the importance of readers to publishers that support their work with advertising, and she also makes clear the importance of good advertising to readers. Advertising and editorial have to work together on the web more than in any other medium, in my opinion, because there are so many alternatives out there for web users.

Great report Angie.

The Statistician’s Blues

…overheard today on a mailing list I’m subscribed to, in response to a question about a particular statistic:

Sixty-four percent of all the world’s statistics are made up right there on the spot
Eighty-two-point-four percent of people believe them, whether they’re accurate statistics or not.

     — Todd Snider, The Statistician’s Blues [iTunes Link]

Too funny… I’ve seen that happen too much to know it’s absolutely true…

What Brand Are You?

Pretty cool.

What Brand Are You?   I am Luxus

What brand are you?

Niche Publishing – Engadget

Niche publishing really isn’t just for Nick Denton anymore… Peter Rojas, the original blogger behind Gizmodo has broken out of that gig to start Engadget… a competitor to Gizmodo.

Denton still has a leg up (first mover advantage we used to call it) on individuals launching one or two focused sites on their own, as he can aggregate his entire Gawker media property audiences if he wants to for an advertiser, or he can sell the advertising piecemeal… but, folks like Rojas can probably make enough money off their sites short-term to support themselves, and long term to build a living that they enjoy.

Best of luck Peter…

Good Reading from February

A few links from the month:

The Internet is Bigger than Cable

Quoting Jeff Jarvis in full (because the information is that important to me:

The Internet is now bigger than cable, according to eMarketer (via MediaPost and LostRemote).

…eMarketer now estimates U.S. household Internet penetration is about 67.9 percent. That compares with a 65.8 percent U.S. household penetration level for cable, according to an eMarketer analysis of Nielsen Media Research and U.S. Census data.
More significantly, Ramsey noted that while cable TV penetration has essentially been flat at about 66 percent of U.S. households, online penetration continues to expand….
Wow, said Jes Santoro, vice president-director of integrated media at Earthquake Media, a media shop that buys traditional and online media, upon learning of the online penetration milestone from MediaDailyNews. I think it is very significant. But its symbolic as well.
Its symbolic because it speaks to peoples media consumption habits, he explained. Think about cable, you kind of have to have it to have it to get TV reception. Its almost like a utility. But with the Internet, people go out and get it because they want to use the Internet.
eMarketers Ramsey agreed, noting that it was similar household penetration milestones that first got cable TV on the map with Madison Avenue during various junctures in cables history.

Oh, but that’s not the half of it. They’re only counting homes and every single Internet business I know (even Nick Denton’s work-unsafe Fleshbot) sees its prime time at midday, during work, where almost anyone sitting at a desk now has high-speed Internet access.

So the penetration is higher than the numbers above indicate. And the usage is higher.

Internet will get greater mindshare and greater share of the audience’s attention because cable and TV and radio can’t reach them at work, but the Internet can.

Let’s repeat that again: The Internet is bigger than cable TV. And so the Internet should be getting a much bigger share of advertising dollars.

Alas, though… ‘the internet’ is too fragmented to aggregate for media buyers the way cable is aggregated in most markets… Even with cable there are only 300 channels or so for advertisers to split their dollars amongst…

Also see: John Battelle’s SearchBlog and MarketingWonk.


This spot for Nutri-Grain is great. It’s the little things that put a smile on your face at the end of a long day… [via This is not your practice blog]

ps. check out the other spots they’ve got on that site by clicking previous and next.

Friday the 13th: Bad Luck

Today was definitely Friday the 13th.

I don’t post about the office on this weblog very often, but today was just one of those days. I’m a sales manager at work, and today, my “star performer” told me she had been offered a job at another company.

That means she’s leaving.

Ugh… can’t tell you how hard that hit me.

You see, I’ve been trying to build a new business around online advertising sales for my company for the past year and a half, and I’ve spent a lot of time teaching, training, and learning. I’ve really put a lot into getting my “star performer” to the level that she’s at right now. When I started at the office, this person was pretty green. I had to mold her into the sales person I needed her to be, and she took it well. Very well, and she’s become successful.

This year, my company gave her an award for improving so much. That made me feel very good about what I was doing and where we were heading.

Then, today, she tells me she’s leaving.

As her friend, I can’t help but be happy for her, and excited about her opportunities… but as her boss, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed and stressed about the pressure this will put on top of all of the rest of the pressure I’ve put myself under trying to build this new part of our business.

We’ll get buy without this “star performer” but this sets up back a step or two for the immediate future.

I’ll post a note on Monday about the opening I need to fill, but, if you know someone in Austin that wants to sell online advertising at a local media company, please send me their resume.

What’s a marketer to do?

Tom Hespos has posted some pretty enlightening reading on the subject of “what’s next in marketing” in his post title Expectations of Relevance.

“…what do advertisers do when the broadcast model fails to deliver? I’d argue that they first need to learn more about their target audiences. What interests, conditions and behaviors are strongly correlated with a need for the advertiser’s product? This will be valuable information in the years ahead. Buying media against Adults 18+ won’t cut the mustard for much longer.”

True, and I agree, the real changes in media planning and buying by marketers will only happen “retirement party, by retirement party.”

Thanks Tom… great post.

NAA Connections Day Three

The last day of Connections was really just more of the stuff you’ve read in my past two accounts of my experiences at the conference.

I attended fewer sessions on Day Three than I did during the other two days, I think mainly because I realized (or percieved) that I wasn’t really getting anything out of the sessions. The two sessions I did attend on day three really were worth attending though. I attended the Buzz Sessions meetings and a one entitled Registration Revisited. I also spent time meeting with vendors, other online newspaper people from similar markets and clients. This third day was much more enjoyable and productive than the first two…

Buzz Sessions: The Buzz Sessions were five small group discussions with topics like Print to Web (taking newspaper display ads and putting them online), Creating spanish-language websites, Essential website redesign, Multimedia (and how to use it), and one other topic (that I can’t remember). I sat in on two of the five little groups: Print to Web and Multimedia. Both were great little discussions. The overall thing I take away from the meeting was that newspapers are really trying to figure out how to use the distribution channel that the internet is as a way to really transform themselves from just ‘printed newspaper companies’ into ‘content and delivery’ companies. Every size and every shape of newspaper was represented in these buzz sessions and a lot of great sharing took place. On the topic of Multimedia, there are some really cool things going on out there, if you take notice… For example, when was putting pictures and movies of the wild-fires that afflicted Southern California this summer… did you know that they found cell-phone camera phones the easiest and most manageable technology solution for getting that content back to the newsroom for production and posting online? Not some $20,000 or $100,000 video set-up. A bunch of stupid $200 cell-phones with cameras built into them and an army of folks to go take pictures. That ingenuity and creativity in this space really amazes me sometimes… cell-phone camera based movies… such a simple solution for web-ready video…

Registration Revisited: Wow! Great presentation and by far the most attended and interesting discussion throughout all of Connections. We heard from Belo Interactive, Tribune Interactive and the Arizona Republic’s online folks… Belo and Tribune are truly leaders in the online registration field. AZCentral just launched ‘lite registration’ last September. Belo and TI have been at it for 4 and 3 years respectively. Belo and TI are just now starting to be able to monetize their registration data effectively for advertisers (and are starting to try and figure out how to use their registration to serve their users/online readers). AZCentral is also just starting to sell advertising based on their registration data. The overall feeling I get coming out of the session was that registration is coming to a newspaper site near you soon. If you’re local news site doesn’t require registration today, trust me when I say that they’re thinking very hard about doing it. Very hard… all of them. And when newspapers do it, I can tell you that TV, radio, and almost all other news-content websites will start following. The leaders are doing it. Their readers aren’t complaining at all (100 complaints in 1.6 Million registrations in Arizona isn’t complaining). It’s coming folks. And I dare say paid premium content online is coming next… It’s already here in some local news markets.

I didn’t attend the presentation on The Transformation of Advertising, though I wanted to. I heard that it was all about how TV is going to change… the person that told me that also said that 99% of the presentation had very little to do with that newspaper companies can do to affect TV advertisers… I guess I’m glad I didn’t go to that one…

I met a lot of great people at Connections, but overall I’m coming away slightly disappointed. My company spent a lot of money to send me out to this conference. I invested a lot of time that could have been spent in front of clients. I expected to really get to learn a lot at this conference, but, in the words of a peer “everything we talked about was ‘old-hat'”. I sat next to the marketing director of a small paper in Arkansas on the way home, and she was very disappointed too. In her words the conference was “more form that substance”.

Will I go to next year’s Connections? Yes, most likely, but only because it’s in Dallas, and I can turn it into a week-long trip to visit clients, not because I think I’ll get anything out of the conference. Can I do something to make the conference better for all attending by joining the planning committees? Sure, I think I could, but do I want to? Don’t know the answer to that.

NAA Connections Day Two

Hmmm… I have mixed feelings about the second day of the NAA Connections meetings… Where should I start?

I guess I’ll start with the fact that the official NAA blog hasn’t been updated to actually reflect anything happening at the conference on Monday. It jumped from Sunday to an advertisement for the Tuesday session. There are any number of reasons for this, but I think a big reason for this is that the whole “we’ll blog the conference” was a good idea, but isn’t really something traditional newspaper people understand, so they haven’t committed to it. For example, they asked people to participate on the blog, but didn’t actually tell anyone the URL or tell them how to add an entry… just a thought. The blog was most likely an addition thrown into the mix at the last minute without any real understanding of how to use it.

Anyways, I attended a few sessions today:

Fighting for Recruitment Revenue – This was an hour or so presentation by Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispin, the guys behind CareerXRoads. Great presentation. Probably the most well presented stuff all day. Gerry and Mark presented the results of their latest study on Hiring Practices (which is supposed to be online here, but isn’t according to Safari… actually, it looks like that’s a redirect to a download of a Word Doc) [Press Release] and interjected their thoughts and answered questions from the audience throughout. Great overview of what Gerry and Mark see as ‘leading indicators’ in the hiring space, and some great actionable information for the recruitment space.

Future Focus: Trends that Will Shape Online Real Estate Revenue (not online anywhere that I can find) – Very good panel. Very good.

Panelists were: Bob Birkentall, Tribune Co. Real Estate Strategy Manager, Robert Kempf, Cape Cod Times Internet Business Development Manager, and Dave Coglizer, eBay. The Moderator was Tony Lee, Editor in Chief and General Manager, The Wall Street Journal Online Network.

The panel presented the 10 trends they see shaping the future of the real estate market. They were:

Trend 1: Home Sellers Take Control – Every aspect of sales will be measured and sales channels that don’t produce sales will get eliminated from the marketing and advertising budgets of home sellers. If an advertising channel’s results aren’t tracked and reported, it doesn’t exist.
Trend 2: Expect Significant Growth in New Property Types – Disappearing boundaries will boost demand for vacation homes, recreation land, time-shares and low-management commercial properties. Ebay is already playing in this field.
Trend 3: Online Brokers will Boost Competition, Cut Commissions, and Weaken the “Realtor” Grip – Data is available to all, propelling the growth of discount brokers, For Sale By Owner sites and other low-cost marketing efforts.
Trend 4: Sellers Demand to Receive Their Own “Home Page” – (now this is a cool idea) – Newspaper sites (and every other medium for home sales) will create ‘portals’ for clients’ homes to help speed the sale process.
Trend 5: Auctioning Homes will become a real alternative – Online auctions will solve sales issues for many types of properties and their sellers. (Dave shared with us an annecdote that “50% of all homes sold in Australia are sold through an auction” noting that it’s just part of the culture there and has been for about 20 years).
Trend 6: RETS is here, while VOWs and IDX systems are already old news – With a data standard emerging, transaction information will flow easily and targeted internet marketing will blossom.
Trend 7: E-commerce replaces call centers as online up sells print – Self Service becomes the preferred online client experience and print emerges as a “premium” opportunity for the advertiser.
Trend 8: A la carte systems embrace online – From lawyers to appraisers to inspectors, the entire home sales process will be faster and cheaper on the internet.
Trend 9: The future of the MLS is fuzzy.
Trend 10: Online Real Estate dominance is still up for grabs – The jury remains out on whether newspaper websites can become the online equivalent of print for most home buyers and sellers.

Competing Against New Threats – What a waste of my time… but not because the content and presentation wasn’t useable, mainly because of the fact that the panelists are probably 10 times more technologically savvy than the newspaper business. The panelists were Mark Pincus, co-founder and CEO of Tribe Networks Inc, Mike Downey, director of business development, Overture Services, and Dan Finnigan, executive VP and general manager for Yahoo! HotJobs.

Mark presented well, but I honestly think 95% of the audience had no idea what he was talking about… Mike told us that Overture wasn’t a competitor to local newspapers, but rather that we were a desired partner, and Dan talked, but about what I honestly can’t remember (he wouldn’t speak into his microphone). My favorite quote from Mark was that “newspapers don’t have a chance in local search”. Whether that’s true or not, I couldn’t tell you, but hearing Mark say it at a newspaper conference was funny. I can tell you that newspapers on a national level don’t have a chance to compete with the likes of Google or Yahoo in the local search market, but there’s no telling that someone out there couldn’t build a model that works in their own market. I could see NYTimes Digital putting together something that worked for Boston, or WPNI putting together a solution for D.C. You just never know, ’till it happens.

Overall, this panel wasn’t very useable… The audience didn’t ask any questions, and that’s always a sign of disconnect between the panelists and their topics, and what the audience is looking to hear. I for one would have much rather heard about how newspapers can compete with the likes of online yellow pages (especially considering that Superpages is really expanding into the local online market again) or ways to compete against HotJobs or Monster rather than hearing about how they ‘want to partner with newspapers’. The topic was “competing” and the panel didn’t deliver.

I will say that it was great to meet Mark at, and I’m hoping we’ll be able to talk again soon.

I didn’t attend two sessions because they ran concurrently to the ones I did attend: Ultra-local Content and Services and Ultimate Election Coverage. These two sessions also seemed to focus on content rather than on advertising, and thus I was more interested in the other meetings/presentations I attended.

I’m really looking forward to the “New Online Business Plans from NAA New Media Fellows” presentation on Tuesday and “Registration Revisited”

Sorry this blog report isn’t more full-featured, but it’s been a long day folks… I sure wish the NAA New Media folks were really blogging the conference, but instead they’re showing that ‘newspapers don’t get blogs’ — something I hear all the time from my friends that know blogs…

NAA Connections Day One

San Diego is a beautiful town to fly into. Wow! And it’s gorgeous to walk through the touristy area close to the harbor too!

I spent the first day at NAA’s Connections today. It was fun… but it was also a long day (nothing like boarding a plane early in the morning, then losing two hours of the day before sitting in conference rooms for presentations).

I attended the Smarter Selling presentation first. The first thing announced was that they’re blogging the conference… and the cool thing is that pretty much all the notes from the presentation are online already. What you won’t read in those notes is that Rusty Coats presented some great stuff very well, that Bruce Kyse is doing some cool stuff in small markets, and that you could definitely tell that Joseph Jaffe isn’t a newspaper guy. Sandhi Kozsuch from WorldNow presented some interesting stuff about what’s happening in the TV-website space too… Overall it was a good session, but honestly, the information presented wasn’t all that actionable… The panel just didn’t have enough time to present and answer questions. In fact, I don’t think there were any questions at the end of the presentation… I wonder why that is?

One thing I found in that presentation that was useful was a link to Haven’t heard of that before, and I’m checking it out now… Good collection of Case Studies, and advertising contacts, but egads, the website sort of sucks now that I play with it a bit…

After that, we checked in at registration and then headed to the Opening General Session. Lots of “feel good” talk, and a presentation by Linda Kaplan Thaler, author of BANG! Got a free copy of that book at the end.

Then back to my hotel to check-in. Then back to the Marriot to attend a reception… lots of meet and greet… It’s painfully obvious to me that I don’t know that many people in this industry. I feel very much like an outsider still.

An observation: There is a lot of money floating around this industry… You can tell by how good the bags at the conference are.

Tomorrow brings some great sessions and a few client meetings.

And to finish out this post… does anyone know why I can’t send email using a wireless connection in the Embassy Suites on Harbor provided by Passym?
Continue reading ‘NAA Connections Day One’

CTDMA: How to maximize the Internet for Direct Marketing — Not

I attended the Central Texas Direct Marketing Association luncheon today and the topic was “How to maximize the Internet for Direct Marketing”. The luncheon was moderated by Lee Sellers of Dell, and the panelists were include Bill Cutshall of Tocquigny Advertising, Interactive + Marketing, Curt Finch of Journyx and William Leake of LCG.

It was a fucking joke. I paid $35 to attend a luncheon where I could learn more about online marketing, and all I got was a sales pitch for two agencies that I can’t afford. Curt Finch was great, but Bill and Bill just talked about what they’ve done for Dell and other large enterprise level clients. I can tell you that no one in the room was in any shape to use any of the advanced knowledge that they (sort-of) shared.

The sad thing is this is the third professional marketing association I’ve visited during an online or internet presentation and every time I go, I get to hear from someone from Dell, someone from Tocquigny, and someone from T3 or LCG… Argh… one more marketing association that offers little more to me than a few opportunities to network with people without actually learning anything that’s practical.

I Robot Now – order an NS-5


If you haven’t seen, then you’re missing the best online advertisement I’ve ever seen… is a website where you can order your very own robot, completely configured the way you want it. You can watch videos of the NS-5 in action and learn more about how a personal domestic assistant can improve your life, how it was developed, and who’s behind it. And best of all, the company behind the NS-5 will be shipping them on July 16th.

Dean Kamen of Segway fame doesn’t hold a candle to Dr. Alfred Lanning, inventor of the NS-5.

The NS-5 will revolutionize the world, or at least that’s what the product literature available online says…

… or will it?

In reality, there is no such thing as the NS-5. It’s a marketing ploy for a movie… but you’d never know that from the website.

The only giveaway that this website isn’t real is the link to the privacy policy on the ‘sign up for updates’ page. From the privacy policy, it’s pretty clear that Fox Films is behind this website, and that they’re using it as some sort of viral marketing tool for their movie I, Robot, coming out next summer and based on Isaac Asimov’s writings of the same name. And if you haven’t read the books, you’re missing out on a huge piece of Sci-fi history.

Best damned advertisement I’ve seen for an upcoming movie yet.

Too bad, I really want one.

Stealing or Not?

The public posting by Noel from a few days ago about Nick Denton ‘stealing’ his work has taught me some great lessons, and might teach the rest of us a few too. I’ll try to list a few of them here:

1. Free never means free.

It’s become apparent that Noel did some work for free and in good faith, for Nick and his company. He showed that work (and all the raw work behind it) to Nick without promise of payment. Nick used the work that Noel did, without restitution for said work, and now Noel’s mad about it. Nick’s gotten a little bad publicity out of the whole deal, and thus the ‘free’ work that Noel did has ended up costing Nick something, thought how much that bad PR hurts Nick in the long term is anyones guess.

2. Understandings aren’t always understood.

It’s pretty clear that Nick and Noel each had their own ‘understanding’ of what the fair use parameters for Noel’s work was. Both understandings weren’t clear to the other party though. Communication broke down between these two parties, and that’s really sad. Noel has pretty much lost the opportunity for further work with Nick (not that Nick had guaranteed Noel any paying work in the future) and Nick’s lost the faith and readership of a few people that also don’t understand the reality of the miscommunication, but have nonetheless made up their minds about who cheated whom.

3. Blogs opened this conversation up

Not that this will astound anyone, but without weblogs, a few things wouldn’t have happened here: a) Noel wouldn’t have been able to comment this publicly about the deeds involved, b) Nick wouldn’t have been able to comment on his attackers own website for all the world to see, c) I wouldn’t have been able to join the conversation, and d) We all might not have seen this little event transpire.

I used to work for a person that was pretty ruthless in business. He wasn’t all that honest with the people that worked for and with him all the time… he was sort of slimy to say the least. That doesn’t mean he didn’t have the best of intentions, he just wasn’t all that ethical. At the beginning of all of this, I jumped to conclusions and thought for sure Nick Denton was just like my old boss… but…

After reading all of the comments from Nick, Rick, and others, all I’ve decided at this point is that Noel and Nick had a misunderstanding that should likely have been resolved privately. Nick probably handled the situation badly at first, and Noel grew frustrated enough to post a public comment about what had transpired up to that point. The result is a likely impassable situation that no-one wins from.

Any number of more positive outcomes could have presented themselves if both parties had worked a little harder with the other toward a more tenable solution, but it’s almost too late for that.

Big Lesson: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

I could have followed that lesson when I originally posted about the situation between Noel and Gawker. Some of the other people commenting on this situation probably could have too. Noel could have followed that lesson when he first brought the situation into the open. I’m sure things could have worked out better had the communication lines been more open.

Some Good News: Noel has posted an update saying that “Negotiations are in the works.” Good to hear they’re communicating again.

Flew to Minneapolis

On Wednesday, I flew to Minneapolis to meet with potential clients, and I have to say that I was impressed. We met with one of the largest retailers in the country, and they’re finally starting to ‘get it’ when it comes to the importance of the internet, and online marketing.

I’m looking for big things from that client in the next two or three years… maybe not directly, but indirectly in that they’ll really start pushing the envelope and that’ll make others in their industry follow them because they’re doing it. I can finally say online marketing (in my opinion) is really starting to come back, and it’s not the dot coms that are pushing the business… It’s the big box retailers that have so much pull in their industry… that’s just great news to me.

We also took a trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis in the evening, and had a great time. I had the opportunity to take my colleagues to a Rainforest Cafe, which is a fun restaurant, and then we walked around the mall looking for holiday specials… we didn’t really buy anything though, because the prices weren’t any better than they are back home, and I personally didn’t feel like lugging more stuff on and off an airplane just so I could say I bought something at the mall.

We didn’t ‘make the sale’ we set out to make, but we did learn a lot about how the client we were meeting with is starting to operate. Overall the trip was worth making.

Heisel: Beyond the click-through

If there is one guy I’d hire based on something I’ve read that he wrote, it’d be Chris Heisel. I’d hire Chris Heisel to be an online advertising sales person, because he gets it. Example:

Heisel: Beyond the click-through.

Well written article about branding and online advertising and its long term effects… The article is a quick read and doesn’t go into too many details, but it touches enough of the online advertising conundrum, that I see everyday in my client’s questions and then decisions, to be worth reading. I’ll hand it out to my sales people tomorrow. Thanks Chris.

linkdump for October

Here’s a few links to stuff I’ve read over the past month or so:

Purchase of Blogsnob

Adam Kalsey has purchased BlogSnob from idya [Press Release]. Congrats Adam… hope it works out well for you.

BlogSnob is a neat little text based advertising system that operated (in my opinion) much like LinkExchange did back when it first launched. Kalsey’s using BlogSnob to upgrade his Textad Exchange service.

You know what the fun thing about Textad and BlogSnob is? Surfing via those services. Find a site with one of them installed, and then just read a bit on each site, then click through to the next, read a bit and move on… you can find some fun stuff that way.

Get a job in Advertising

Top Advertising Recruiter Reveals Job Trends & Tips from MarketingSherpa. Great tips.

RSS Advertising (or sponsorship) – Part II

Found at MarketingWonk: Feeding Ads Through Feeds

A reader of Lockerknome wrote this:

If RSS just becomes another polluted source of noise, it will be no better than email or the Web are right now. If an RSS feed is going to have ads interspersed with content, its not saving me time. What made RSS feeds unique was that they gave me what I asked for and nothing was wasted. If all companies are publishing to RSS is advertisement-laden crap, we end up with nothing more than a poorly functioning version of the same thing we have now.

Chris Pirillo answers that the beauty of RSS is that it’s a pull medium (I’m paraphrasing here) and in that it’s a pull medium, it’s too easy for us as users to unsubscribe from the feed if we don’t like it, but I think that’s shirking the issue. What if we really, really like the content, but hate the advertising? What if the advertising becomes too overpowering because of a greedy sales manager at the publishing company for the users? Sure, the publisher will loose readers, but how can the publisher balance advertisements and reader’s needs, wants, and desires?

I’ve long advocated advertising in RSS (though I don’t do it here because I’m too lazy to figure it out, and I have nothing to sell) as long as the advertising is targeted and relevant to the audience of the RSS feed. For example, a website about Sci-fi books might offer one ad in a feed of 10 news items that changes once a week for a new book – that would be targeted and relevant.

Another example might be Gawker offering local New York businesses a weekly sponsorship of their RSS feed only to local businesses that offer something to local readers in New York, and to earn the opportunity to sponsor the feed, those businesses must truly offer something of value to New York readers that will drive traffic to their store: A supermarket offering free milk if you buy $10 of crap at their store, or J&R offering a free CF card if you come buy something at their down-town store on a Saturday where they’re having an HP marketing event… something like that is targeted and relevant and offers value to the reader.

The ad should only show up in the RSS feed as ‘new’ once per week or month, depending on the audience that it’s targeted to reach. And yes, I agree, weekly ‘new’ would probably work best for most advertisers.

Adam Kalsey shows how to put a weekly ad in his SimpleLinks RSS feed that’s produced with MovableType with this article.

Amazon does a good job of offering their content through RSS feeds, and I’d argue that this is a complete feed system that’s truly just advertising as content.

And lastly, Ken Schaefer provides his comments on advertisements in RSS feeds in this post on his weblog.

Why you should ALWAYS Listen to Marketing Professionals

Well, Andy finally spilled the beans about Up2Speed becoming MarketingWonk. It’s a really funny story, if you’re interested in what’s happening with the old MarketingFix (why we didn’t go back to the original brand, I have no idea).

Read on

Oh, and always listen to marketing professionals because they always know what they’re talking about 😉

Campaign Free: Free Email Blast Software from Arial Software

Wow, talk about a great marketing move.:

Arial Software is giving away Campaign FREE permission email marketing software as a marketing tool… I downloaded my free copy today and will be testing it out, as I’m looking for an easy, inexpensive way to publish a quarterly newsletter at the office… I’ll report my findings on the software in a few months.

Recognition of a pitch: Branding

In So much for branding Seth comments on an article about how irrelevant branding can be in today’s over-advertised world in which “17 top CEOs shared their elevator pitches, but few understood them”.

Coming up with a product name

Dave: How to Name a Product. Five steps to naming a product… definitely worth a look if you’re the kind of person that gets dragged into product naming meetings or brain-storming sessions. I’ve failed miserably at naming products in the past…

What’s in a market?

Here is a great article entitled “Markets” by Doc Searls that really ought to be read by advertisers, marketers and the general public:

There also is a problem with conceiving broadcast service–especially the commercial variety–as a “marketplace”. Its customers and consumers are different populations. The customers of commercial broadcasting are advertisers, not viewers and listeners. In fact, commercial broadcasting mostly is an advertising business. The “content” it distributes is merely bait; the goods sold are the ears and eyeballs of “consumers”. That means commercial broadcasting’s real marketplace is Madison Avenue, not radio and TV dials. As a consumer of commercial broadcast programming, your direct influence is zero because that’s exactly what you pay. There also is a problem with conceiving broadcast service–especially the commercial variety–as a “marketplace”. Its customers and consumers are different populations. The customers of commercial broadcasting are advertisers, not viewers and listeners. In fact, commercial broadcasting mostly is an advertising business. The “content” it distributes is merely bait; the goods sold are the ears and eyeballs of “consumers”. That means commercial broadcasting’s real marketplace is Madison Avenue, not radio and TV dials. As a consumer of commercial broadcast programming, your direct influence is zero because that’s exactly what you pay.