Friday, July 28, 2006

The New Metrics of Reach


Has been viewed over 220,000 times.

Imagine if it had a Purina logo on it.
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Not Terrible Idea: Ad Supported IT Software

A company called Spiceworks has released free, ad-supported network management software. I haven't got a fraction of an idea on how to manage a network, but from what I'm reading, there is a significant amount of data about the network that it processes. It will know (assumedlly) that there are problems of slowdowns or memory over-runs. Or whether or not you've got the latest software installed. A ton of information for targetted ads.

Of course, its possible that there will be a bunch of ads for free-screensavers, dating sites, and mortgage brokers. But one can always hope.
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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Freudian Slippage

"No, Senator. I am not now, nor have I even been, a member of the Open Source community"

Gary Stein has a history filled with open source involvement — currently he is Chairman of the Apache Software Foundation and is an engineering manager at Google.

...that would be Greg Stein, kids.
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There's a new site called Barcodepediaa community built database for bar codes. That's pretty cool. This is a pure service. That is: in-and-of-itself, this is not a huge benefit. The only way this site/service will be valuable will be as people begin to build applications on top of it.

You'd really like to see some industry involvement here. A manufacture could certainly place a huge amount of data into this database and make it very valuable. There's something so niche about this, that it seems to be an investment in unknown future development. I would also include this as a part of the crowdsourcing concept.

BTW: That Crowdsourcing blog is coming up on one month of no-posts. S'up with that? I think this idea has got some good legs behind it. Maybe (he-he) the author needs to open this up and let the community build it?!
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Monday, July 24, 2006

We're hiring!


Freestyle Interactive is look for senior account and media people. Let me know if you are interested in joining a great team.
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Friday, July 21, 2006

WOM element: The Endorsement

Floyd Landis on yesterday’s ride

“The only chance we had of winning the tour was to go from the beginning. I’m not gonna get six minutes on the last climb. Nobody can - it’s not long enough. So it was a long shot, but I figured we had nothing to lose. I came here to win the tour and it was my only chance. We didn’t have any other options. Somehow or another, word got around the peloton that we were gonna do that and a couple people came and told me it was crazy and I should please don’t do it. Anyway, I told ‘em go drink some Coke ‘cause we’re leaving on the first climb if you wanna come along.

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TV: Welcome to the Bottom

Well, from the Read-too-much-into-this Department, we get news that last week was the worst week in television ratings history.

In other news, Google Rocks and Yahoo! misses (big deal says Niki (he's right)).
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Here's the latest news from the world of aggressive inline skating:

Roller Warehouse: Aggressive Rollerblade Skates

Cool, huh? I'm sure you haven't caught up on all this news.

Seriously: I found this via the Technolgy Evangelist blog. They picked it up from a company called Roller Warehouse, which sells Rollerblade stuff.

Roller Warehouse makes the code that places this ticker on your site. They clearly want everyone to place this on their MySpace page, blog and whereever else. In fact, they are paying for it: they offer those who place the ad a discount on the store.

This is the sort of media buying and planning that is very clearly in line with Web 2.0.
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Sorting through Search Terms

I'm looking through the latest stats on who's serving what ads from Nielsen/NetRating. There's a chart of the top 25 companies by their top 3 search terms (scroll to the bottom of the page). Assumedly, these are the terms that bring the most traffic to the companies (right?). If so, the Web remains an odd wild place.

No...scratch that...the world remains an odd, wild place. The Battellian view of search engines as the database of intentions means that people's intentions are quite odd. Consider the following companies and their top search terms:
eBay: myspace, ebay, maps
Shopzilla: swimsuits, Pepsi Collectors Cans, tracphone
Amazon: books, haunted lighthouses, log splitters
Yahoo: free music, fireworks, mermaids
What an odd collection of terms. I also have to wonder about eBay getting clicks and serving ads for the term "myspace". I can't believe that that is truly a relevant ad. I looked on eBay. There are some Myspace-inspired t-shirts and things. But the engines must realize that this is supposed to be a direct navigation query.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One Mountain too Many

Who hasn't felt like this, at least once?
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Sprite Commerical on YouTube

OK, this doesn't have the production value of the famous George Masters iPod ad, but I love this little movie 'about' Sprite. I put a link to this video in my ClickZ column this week and (half-jokingly) asked people to email me and explain it.

I got a few responses. Here's the best, from Mike Ventura:

It's the essence of "branding." Branding isn't typefont, color, copy - all those attributes that are sometimes - and erroneously - associated with "brand."

"Brand" is the consumer's emotional attachment to the product. These two girls are obviously involved in the the point that they'd make this campy little video.

Who didn't watch it all the way through? The Sprite brand had my attention for two minutes - that's a lot these days.

CGM cuts through the clutter because of what it is.

well put.
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Interactive Ad Techniques, off the Internet

I've always been a fan of getting online advertising techniques offline. That is, taking the notion of meta-data and interactivity and bringing it into the real world. The problem, of course, is that the offline world is analog, right? It's pretty hard to be dynamic and flexible--the way you can online.

One particular technology is beginning to change that: Radio Frequency Identification or RFID. The idea is essentially placing very small, low power, low frequency chips on all sorts of things. These chips broadcast data about themselves. Smart devices can pick up these signals and do stuff with them.

What sort of stuff? Well, anything, really. Whatever you can do with data. MIT's ad lab is reporting on a dressing room that knows what you've brought in and offers fashion advice, via a touch screen.

To make things more interesting, HP announced that they've cut the size of these things down to a little dot. That means that they can be stuck anywhere. Or, potentially, one thing could have a bunch of them. A car in the showroom could have one on the dash, one under the hood, one on the stickshift and five in the cupholder.

As the data becomes available, you can imagine an API that would let people's imagination begin to run. What sorts of mashups could you imagine, based on all the data inside of a shopping cart?

Shopping and researching online has certainly raised our expectations for the real world. This sort of innovation definitely helps development along. Are there privacy issues? Naturally. But I imagine that honest retailers will navigate these in a way that doesn't offend its customer base.
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Crowdsourcing Links

My ClickZ article this morning is about Crowdsourcing and its implications for marketers and advertisers. I tried to make a few points in there, the primary being that Crowdsourcing is a very cool new term for a fairly well-established set of practices. The core idea is opening up your project to the crowd, giving any interested person the ability to actually mold your product.

Rather than load the load up the article with links, I figured I'd post a few here:

  • The Crowdsourcing Blog is written by Jeff Howe, who also wrote the original story in Wired about Crowdsourcing.
  • SETI@Home was probably the first instance of Crowdsourcing that caught people's attention. There's a good history lesson on it at Wikipedia.
  • Trendwatching has a great resource called "Customer-Made", with links to a number of examples of what we're talking about. My absolute favorite is Orange's Talking Point. In some sense, this is just a survey tool. But it is so elegantly desinged and implemented that it has the potential to attract a lot of interest.
Crowdsourcing is definitely a new, new term and a lot of things could potentially be caught up in its wake. In my mind, this is an evolution in CGM (consumer generated media)...not so much on the consumer side, but rather on the corporate side. That is, CGM is a fact of corporate life. You don't have any choice to make about it occuring. Crowdsourcing is the view from the corporate side. That, you do have a choice about.

That is, Crowdsourcing is a business strategy. It is a decision to use the activity happening in the consumer space in a very directed way. This is not necessarily about researching your brand (although it certainly could be). Rather it is about product development. The product group has scientists, designers, chefs and other experts. The marketing department has the consumer. That's a pretty powerful asset to bring to the design table, and one that interactive/Internet focused marketers should be making more of.
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Friday, July 14, 2006

Dallas Trip: 2 Brand Shout-outs

Here's to practicing what we preach: good brand experiences are worth talking about. Story-telling is the heart of word-of-mouth marketing.

I'm in Dallas right now, at the tail end of a biz trip. We stayed at the new W hotel in downtown Dallas. The place has been open for only 2 weeks, and I guess there are a few kinks to work out. I didn't do any organizing (thank heavens), but evidently, those who did found a few...umm...service gaps.

Well, they fix whatever went wrong, plus: we were all out to dinner with our client. The staff knew we were there (somehow). They called up the place and bought us a round of drinks.

Nice touch.

The other shout out is Samsung. They've set up a lounge here at the airport with WiFi, comfy chairs and lots of outlets. It's free and open to enter. The WiFi is T-Mobile, so you have to pay for it. But the fact that there's a nice, clean, quiet spot here at the airport is massively appreciated. You know, I've been in at least 4 brainstorm sessions where an idea like this has come up, but it never came to fruition.

Samsung did it--and they found a nice way to showcase their products: there's a steel case hanging on one wall with a selection of their cell phones. Nicely done. The idea of having a product showcase in a relevant spot is a good idea. The decision to make that spot into a little oasis for your target is great.
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FeedBurner's Costello: "The Feed of Me"

Business 2.0 has a good article about Feedburner and their CEO Dick Costolo. They're managing 300,000 feeds right now, and I imagine the growth curve is fairly steep. The company doesn't seem to be making any money right now, but that doesn't seem to bother anyone too much, evidently.

Instead, they seem pretty keenly focused on getting to the bottom of how feeds are going to be used. His most compelling concept is the "the feed of me": a feed that captures and organizes everything you've got going on: your blog, your social network, you IM buddies, your photos, and so on.

It's an interesting idea, and the kind of thing that everyone would like to have. That is, they'd like to have it just start showing up. The idea of setting something like that up, let alone managing and maintaining it seems a little daunting.

But, if this happens, it would be a treasure trove for advertisers. Behavioral targeting would get the kind of (and amount of) data that would make relevance shoot up. And because feeds are so get-able by computers (because of their inherent structure), there could be some real efficiencies built into these systems.

Feedburner definitely has momentum, as RSS sorts itself out and becomes more popular. It's good to see that they have the flexibility (thanks to a bunch of funding) to really explore what the medium might be.
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Monday, July 10, 2006

ClickFraud: Menace or Mouse?

Click fraud is in the news again this last week, thanks to a couple of stories. The first was that a company called Outsell claimed that click fraud cost advertisers $800 million last year. The other was that Eric Schmidt evidently dismissed the issue at a conference last month.

The issue once again returns: is click fraud a big deal or not. My conculsion has always been that click fraud is bad, primarily becuase it undermines the confidence that advertisers have in search advertising. However, it seems to be a very solvable problem, at leat on an advertiser by advertiser basis.

Let's take that first story. That number is large and impressive, but really pure speculation. Educated speculation, clearly, but there's no column on the ledgers marked "Click Fraud (loss)." Rather, this is the result of asking advertisers to guess at the amount of clicks they get that are fradulent. The problem with this is that the majority of advertisers have no sophisticated means by which they can measure their traffic, making it difficult to pull out the percentage that may be fradulent.

So, that $800 million number is really more a measure of how concerned people are about click fraud, which is a TON.

Making Dr. Schmidt's remarks a bit ill-advised. The feedback on his comments tend to be just that: he seems arrogant and unconcerned. Well, chalk that up as one more Google-exec remark-snafu.

But, on the other hand, I think he's kidding himself when he says that the perfect economic solution is to ignore it, and let the market take care of things. Take a look at any market: all attempts at deregulation, under the assumption that a free market naturally tends toward efficiency, seem to go horribly wrong. Sooner or later, a number of rules need to be put in place that force the market back to 'correct'. Free market solutions seem to never account for the presence of black markets.

The situation, then, is that advertisers are worried, but unclear on the details (which, of course, fuels the worry). In this case, I agree with Aaron from SEOBook:

If you believe the advertisers will filter out the fraud then at least bake the ability to detect value on a per publisher level.

Maybe what we need is a greater level of detail for everyone. Google's awesome, but its inner workings are obscure. That's acceptable to a level. I think the algorithm should be secret. But the flow of clicks for a publisher? That is valuable information and should be exposed to a greater degree to the publisher. That will allay some fear, which will go a long way toward solving the issue.
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Thursday, July 06, 2006

PodCast on Small Businees & WOM

I just did a PodCast with Jim Butz of Resonnect. I met Jim at WOMMA conference and he asked me to come on and talk about a few of my 10 Commandments for WOMM. You can listen to the podcast here. The focus is on small businesses.

In other news: I working on an e-book of my presentation. I posted my slides, but the slides don't really tell much of a story. I'm up to Commandment #3. I'll (of course) post it up when it's all done.
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Paying for Posts

Pete Blackshaw weighs in with a lengthy post about a new company called PayPerPost. The idea behind the company is a sort-of marketplace where advertisers and bloggers can meet up and exchange value. Advertisers post up offers: blog about our product and we'll pay you $X. Bloggers can choose a topic, write their post and get some cash. Pete ticks through all the issues associated with this, with a level of rigor and even-handedness that is extraordinary. Take a look at his post and you'll see what I mean.

In my talk at WOMBAT, I mentioned that WOM sometimes rides a razor's edge of ethical behavior: we're trying to move marketing outside of the bounded space of placed-advertising and into the world of natural conversations. These sorts of enterprises clearly put us very close to that edge.

Pete puts it all into perspective, I think. There's nothing illegal here, but there has to be disclosure attached to this sort of effort. If you place AdSense ads on your blog, they're clearly marked. If you blog about something specifically to get paid for it, that needs to be disclosed as well (even if you write negatively about it). Or, perhaps your blog as a whole should be noted "Posts may be paid-for".
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Oscar Friere won the sprint today. But look...a little way back. You see the other guy wearing the orange and blue with his arms up? That's Flecha (a stage winner in his own right) celebrating as well. That's because Friere got to the front of this pack by following Flecha. It's always about working together: knowing how to balance efforts so that one individual wins, but wins for everyone.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006


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What Cycling and Marketing have in Common

Robbie McEwen won Stage 2 of the Tour and said this:
"winning bike races: its not about the energy you use, its about the energy you don't use"
I love it. That's my new marketing rule-of-thumb.
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