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38 posts from June 2005

Learning to Understand the Web

Long ago, when someone explained the web to me, I immediately understood what they were talking about. I mean, it sounded really simple and functional. But I was wrong. There were so many things I never anticipated.

In little sips, I'm reading David Weinberger's Small Pieces Loosely Joined. The depth and breadth of his vision for the web is just phenomenal. It defines a whole new frontier for human knowledge and growth.

I also lurk at a discussion group called ExperienceDesign. Today, one of their members, Karl Long, called our attention to a post by Peter Merholz at Adaptive Path. It's pure genius. Take a sip here and then go read the whole thing. Surprising, huh? Stuff you didn't realize you should know.

Adaptive path: How I learned to stop worrying and relinquish control.

Again and again, the history of the Web shows us the value of relinquishing control. Amazon’s customer comments were originally thought foolish by those who believed negative reviews would hurt sales. Instead, they increased trust, which drove more transactions. eBay’s open marketplace eschews centralized control of buyers and sellers, instead favoring a distributed management system where individuals rate one another. Not coincidentally, Google, Amazon, and eBay have all made available their Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) so that others can leverage their information in unforeseen and innovative ways.

In Houston, TV Station Wins Employment Classifieds from Monster

In the race for local media to establish their online sites as metro-magnets, Houston ABC affiliate KTRK just got a competitive edge for local job ads. Get more details about the media partnerships that make it possible by clicking on the link.

Houston Business Journal: Houston TV station Web site to host Monster Job Center.

Houston will be one of three cities to carry the Monster Job Center on the Web site of its ABC affiliate television station. ...

One of the features of the job center will be the ability for job seekers to sort through jobs by ZIP code, according to Brad Baker, chief product and marketing officer for Monster.

Arizona Gets Online Video Working

I don't normally look to a public agency to act like a leading-edge marketer, but the Arizona Office of Tourism deserves kudos for trying something new and collecting the data to prove it works. (Smart move to preserve their budgets?) Please note they started this test with strong, already-proven creative content. Click on the link and read the complete article for juicy details.

iMedia Connection: Video Shows Strength in New Verticals.

With only minimal experience with online advertising, Moses Anshell, the agency representing the Arizona Office of Tourism, sought to collaborate with online media buying firm The Fifth Network and online video specialists Klipmart, to develop an online campaign that leveraged eye-catching creative Moses Anshell had previously used for television spots and re-purposed from their library of Arizona, to play online. ...

During the campaign 7,778,462 video ads were served, with 41,271 clicks, or a .6 percent clickthrough rate. For the 5,146,062 non-video ads, there were 5,089 clicks, for a .09 clickthrough rate. The overall conversion rate for those who clicked through was about 50 percent, with the video ads outperforming the non-video ads by about nine to one. Total conversion rate for all 12,924,524 ads served was .3 percent; cost per acquisition (CPA) utilizing online only creative was $5.26, a figure far less than their offline CPA.

With the video creative far outpacing the non-video creative in both clickthrough and signups, one can conclude that video ads not only delivered a highly effective branding message that drove traffic to the site, but also dramatically lifted direct response metrics.

Reporters, like other Influencers, More Likely to Read Blogs

It may be true that few people read blogs on a regular basis, but among the few are reporters. So if you like to blog, maybe you're more influential than you think.

ClickZ: Study Bolsters Blog-Related PR Practices.

The trend toward PR agencies setting up blog-specific practices got a boost this week, as a new study found that more than half of journalists use blogs in the course of their work. The research, conducted by Euro RSCG Magnet and Columbia University, would seem to support the importance of efforts like Ketchum's "Personalized Media" practice and CooperKatz' Micro Persuasion effort.

The Euro RSCG/Columbia study shows that more than 51 percent of journalists use blogs regularly, and 28 percent rely on them to help in their day-to-day reporting duties. By contrast, a recent Pew Internet and American Life Project survey showed that just 11 percent of the U.S. population as a whole reads blogs.

Newspapers Need to Evolve to their Strengths

At the ANA's Print Forum, Laura Davies Fine, a Wall Street analyst who follow newspaper stocks, applauded Gannett for its online services ( and and said in general the newspapers need to get with it.

Chief Marketer: Newspaper Advertisers Want Web Action Too.

[Newspapers] hold the potential to become excellent vehicles for the Procter & Gambles of the world, a top Wall Street analyst said last week. But to garner more advertising, they need to align their Web offerings with their print product.

Among her recommendations to newspapers

  • Help local merchants get online
  • Tame their aggressive online advertisers and make their web sites more user friendly
  • Focus on metropolitan news, where they have the competitive edge.

Makes perfect sense to me. I don't want newspapers to go away, I want them to get smarter.

Blogs for Customers

Scott Rafer, the CEO of Feedster, makes an excellent point about corporate blogs. When a corporate blog is established, customers are the most likely people to find it, and you can share almost anything you want with them, provided you correctly set their expectations and keep your commitment. Once you do that you can expect them to share their wants and needs with you. Read the whole article for plenty of common-sense tips about starting a corporate blog.

Link: iMedia Connection: Customer Relationships are Fundamental.

The most common misconception among corporate communications and marketing groups is that their blogs need to be fascinating, or interesting, or controversial. The only things required are that they be timely, give the reader some mechanism for feedback and that they meet the expectations set by their authors. If your local car dealer wants to start a blog that lists this week's specials, that is completely appropriate as long as he sets expectations, meets them and responds when he hears feedback from his readers. That latter circumstance is the most important. In each of our businesses, our customers and potential customers want things from us that they are not yet getting. If we give them a public, timely forum based on internet standards (as opposed to proprietary message boards common over the last ten years), they will tell us exactly what we can do to sell to them more effectively.

Time Crunch Drives Advertising Innovation

USA Today has a terrific "trends roundup" article on new forms of advertising. According to Theresa Howard, It's not just the internet, but the availability of many new ways to get the news and information you need, from cell phones to news feeds, from DVRs to iPods, that is allowing consumers to skip time-wasting advertisments.

"People are so busy, overdone, overworked and over committed," says [Faith] Popcorn. "If I can watch Desperate Housewives without commercials, I can watch it in 40% of the programmed time."

...If the number of entries at Cannes this year is any indicator, the prominence of TV ads may be waning even here. Entries in the "film" ad competition, long the glitziest category, dropped 2% to 4,995, while the number of entries overall is up 18% to 22,101....

Some observers see a future of ad campaigns that include TV spots, but as part of a creative mix of media that work together. A campaign might also include elements that reach consumers spending more of their time on the Web, on mobile phones, reading text messages or playing video games. And TV spending might be split between commercials and product placement that DVR users can't skip over. "Today you need a great idea, and you can work out which media types will reflect it," TBWA's [John] Hunt says.

The advertisers to watch, says Howard, are Burger King, Pepsi One, BMW Mini Cooper, and Anheuser-Busch, which recently hired JibJab, "the shop behind the This Land presidential election spoof that spread across the Web to an estimated 80 million viewers last fall."