Saturday, February 28, 2009

Trust in Blogs

Blogs are useful ways for companies to engage in conversation with consumers who are connected to online social networks. Consumers use blogs to gather information about varios products and services. How effective are they anyway?

On a 2008 survey conducted on the sources of information that people trust people were asked to rate on a scale from on to five the information sources they used. The most trusted source was e-mail from people you know (77% trust it) followed by print newspapers (46%) magazines (39%) and television (38%).

Quite concerning where the rates obtained by marketing messages from companies. E-mail from a company was rated with 28%, direct mail with 25% and company blogs with 16%. Company profiles in social netoworks came in with 18%.

So how to make consumers believe in blogs? According to Josh Bernoff companies should consider the following when making their blogs:


  • Talk to consumers in a way that "suggests". Consider consumer issues not solely the company's ones. Rubbermaid's blog (http://blog.rubbermaid.com/) is not about Rubbermaid. It’s called “Adventures in Organization,”and it’s about getting organized.
  • If you can't earn it, then borrow it. If there are famous blogs in your market that customers are reading about get involved in them so people start talking about you.

It's not enough for a company to have a blog but for consumers to trust what is being said on it. I think that having a blog that no one trusts is more harmful than not having a blog at all. Companies should keep a close eye to what is being said about themselves on popular market blogs because these could most probably have more users than their own.


Source:
Blogs, Marketing and Trust: Who do you Trust? By Josh Bernoff

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Hulu Super Bowl Ad -- $$$ well spent?




We all heard so much about the cost of superbowl commercials, and the difficulty brand advertisers have in measuring the impact on sales of a a 3 million dollar 30 second spot. Well now we know that Hulu’s Super Bowl Ad Jacked Traffic 50%. It looks like Hulu’s monthly visitors had been steady at around 9M for the previous 3 months and then shot up and doubled in the month following the big game. This, despite Hulu recently pulling content from other major referral networks and devices, including CBS-owned TV.com and Boxee.

It’s interesting to see all this business going to Hulu, and it’s difficult to tell yet how many people are actually dumping their cable to watch TV on their PC or streaming through a device such as Boxee to their TV. But we do know that almost half of cable TV customers say they would pay $10 per month to watch video on their PCs. This shows why the big networks like Fox and NBC (who own Hulu) weren’t worried about spending to try to figure out the best business model… and apparently it’s working.

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New content through mobile broadcasting

One of the new trends appeared about one year ago is mobile online live streaming application. Over a fast internet connection, videos can be broadcasted from a mobile phone (with video capability of course) live to the internet. Users can broadcast to friends, blogs, and social networks as well as then interact with their viewers via mobile application. Flixwagon is the currently the leader, offering live video streaming service not only with a 3G or WiFi enabled phones (e.g. Nokia and Sony Erickson handsets) but also on iPhone. Its main competitor is Qik followed by other players such as Kyte.tv and Bambuser.com.

How do they work? Both Qik and Flixwagon require online registration on websites and afterwards an application can be installed onto the handset, all for free. There are some differences on functionality, for example Qik has the option to repost videos to download back to PC. Qik has another advantage over its competitor because offers the possibility to copy the video not only on to YouTube or Facebook as Flixwagon offers – but also to other sites such as Blogger, Mogulus, Pounce, Mobuzz.tv. Both websites have a video archive where all videos posted are stored. Social features are enhanced by Twitter, Qik and Flixwagon use it to alert friends and them directly to the video. Furthermore, chat rooms from both Qik and Flixwagon are offered to allow viewers to send messages to users’ mobile handsets.

Mobile broadcasting offers interesting business opportunities for traditional media companies and mobile carriers. It allows carriers to create new revenue streams and increase customer loyalty. On the other side, also media companies and TV broadcasters can benefit by receiving high quality live video broadcasting of news or entertainment, from any location around the world.

Since February 2008, Flixwagon has signed a partnership with MTV as content provider and is currently exploring other partnerships with media companies.

Mobile broadcasting market is still young and not too crowded but is growing rapidly. Future potential can be exploited and accelerated further by bandwidth increases and enhanced mobile handsets. Stay tuned.

Isabella


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Friday, February 27, 2009

Save me from Windows Vista

It’s now more than a year that I have been fighting with Windows Vista and missing my old XP.

Windows Vista was released in beginning of 2007 with after a huge hype but it has proven to disappoint not only me, but most of the users. Furthermore, businesses have adapted very slowly this new system due to numerous pitfalls of this system. What is wrong with it? Just to mention a few frequent and basic troubles… many of the programs and computer peripherals (e.g. printers) do not work and are incompatible, overall there is a much slower performance - especially during start up and shut down phases - not mention a shorter battery life and a problematic hibernate status.

So what are the advantages? A part for a more cool design, graphics and enhanced video capabilities, I still haven’t realized what the improvements of this new operating system are.

Unfortunately there aren’t many options. A part from converting to Apple’s Mac, if you are lucky you can still find the older and mostly wide used version of Windows XP regularly uploaded on HP and Lenovo PCs, available until June 30th. Another option would be to downgrade from the installed Vista to the XP or lastly hope that a new version of Vista will bring improvements to the current and numerous issues.
Isabella



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A world wide blackout

This past Tuesday a Gmail blackout left about 113 million users with no access to their email account for more than 3 hours.

The explanation of the incident was due to a spillover effect of a crash in one of the European data centers during a routine maintenance causing unexpected overflow over other data centers. While the other sites were supposed to cover the damaged software center, the final result was a general crash down with over 3 hours of worldwide blackout.

Today Google's Gmail is the 3rd most popular web email service after Hotmail and Yahoo, with 283 and 274 million users respectively. But Google is not offering only an email box; this outage had other serious effects from simple communication to business and various activities. Many users were completely stuck, not only accessing their emails but also documents, data and software applications.

Google has been developing extensively numerous online based alternatives applications to compete with Microsoft Office desktop applications. Most of the services are free, but advanced applications are also offered under payment fees. Numerous individuals and businesses already switched to Google’s web based services, such as Google Apps, replacing conventional desktop email and software. Users can work on documents collaborating instantly online with Google docs, as well as share calendars, messaging and chat with the other Gmail services.

This is not the first Google blackout…in year 2008 according to Google, the mail service suffered on average 10 - 15 minutes of monthly downtime. The last serious outage in August, when email service went down for about 90. Last January instead a blackout of Google search engine left internet users lost on the web.

Perhaps people believe that Google is infallible and only when it goes down we realize how today business and communication is internet related and internet dependent.


Isabella


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Jaguar & Land Rover Go Mobile

Jaguar and Land Rover announced their plans to spend $1.6 million on mobile advertising in 2009. AdMob will be running the auto brands' campaigns on its U.S. network.

Interestingly, the push for mobile advertising this year is more around driving response than growing awareness. Research has found that mobile advertising is currently more a direct-response tool versus awareness tool. This appears likely because of ads targeted to smart phone users. The relatively affluent user demographic of iPhones and Blackberrys use their devices to stay connected while they travel and play and past performance of mobile ads indicates mobile users are indeed acting upon content consumed on their mobiles. As can be imagined, past performance is a key driver of tomorrow's ad sales.

As such, despite the looming recession and advertising cuts, companies still see value in mobile advertising. We can expect to see more and more advertisements hitting our phones this year. According to Steve Bader, Managing Partner of Brand in Hand:

"Million-dollar-total campaign budgets are not totally unusual and will become more typical in the coming quarters. The smaller scale of most (mobile ad) buys of the last few years has not been in rational proportion to the growth of mobile audiences and interaction rates with mobile advertising."

Soure: http://adage.com/digital/article?article_id=134882

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“Crowdsourced feedback” (like it or not)


Tropicana is changing their package back to its previous incarnation after six short weeks. The strength of digital media and social networks may have fanned these winds of change.

Those of who know me well have heard my "gentle rants" about the Tropicana Orange Juice repackaging launched earlier this year. Why the vertical logo placement (I have never had a single piece of research support vertical logo placement, as efficient as it can be for big branding of primary panels)? Why on EARTH would you walk away from the strong visual equity of the straw-in-orange conveying freshness? Why a generic sans serif font... are you trying to make it look like a TESCO or Sainsbury's package ? They changed the cap to a half-orange which, while cute, smacks of premium packaging on a consumable which is a no-no in this conservationist age. And completely, utterly, unshoppable as all differentiation was buried no doubt for the sake of art.

I wasn't the only one thinking this way, the blogosphere agreed. This article in the NYT from earlier this week acknowledged the massive backlash Pepsico encountered acknowledged massive direct feedback via phone and email, but I have seen numerous blogs with innumerable comments all addressing the topic which I imagine carried equal sway as I imagine they no doubt helped create the 'push' needed to get consumers more vocal.

Kudos to Pepsi for listening to the consumer (doing so prior to launch would have been way cheaper) and moving swiftly to backtrack. And if anyone would like a little schadenfreude (Thank you John Gapper for that one) tune here to see Peter Arnett waxing poetic about all the psychological mumbo-jumbo reasons why this packaging is a winner at its launch. Next time you hear marketers speak like this about ANYthing, short the stock.


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Japan and the IPhone

did anyone else see this:
http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2009/02/why-the-iphone.html
Apparently the iphone is not doing well in Japan-- to the point where one Japanese carrier is giving it away for free with a 2-year contract.
It seems the aesthetics of the iphone are not appealing-- and the capabilities not up to snuff. As the article states:
"For example, Japanese handset users are extremely into video and photos — and the iPhone has neither a video camera nor multimedia text messaging. And a highlight feature many in Japan enjoy on their handset is a TV tuner, according to Kuittinen."
Given this added feature demand, suppliers are stepping up:
http://www.eetasia.com/ART_8800562792_499488_NT_12434ead.HTM
Softbank mobile along with Siano mobile Silicon has created a Tv & Battery:
"Called "TV & Battery," the new iPhone accessory unit—which looks like a small, sleek iPhone the size of a business card—is "a charger to go" and a mobile TV receiver in one."
Once connected via Wifi, the viewer can watch tv on the iPhone, with the receiver tucked away in a pocket, purse, etc.
I wonder if this will help increase iPhone sales in Japan; the free phones with 2 year contract should certainly help. Apple's COO has noted that demand has increased for the iPhone with each reduction in price.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10172786-1.html

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New York Times to Launch Local Blog?

TechCrunch reported this morning that the New York Times may unveil a local neighborhood blog project this upcoming Monday. The Brooklyn neighborhoods of Fort Greene and Clinton Hill will be one of two pilot neighborhoods. Users of NYTimes.com will be invited to report neighborhood matters including "...cultural events, bar and restaurant openings, real estate, arts, fashion, health, social concerns and anything else that goes on in the ‘SoHo of Brooklyn.’"

This new initiative can be likened to CNN's iReporters site, which also encourages the public post news stories. How this changes the nature of news reporting still waits to be seen, but it appears that both initiatives will attract more eyeballs, and in turn, more advertisers to their sites. Still, whether or not this can be a sustainable revenue model is anyone's guess. Will small, local advertisers finally be able to advertise on the coveted pages of the New York Times - space traditionally reserved for big name brands? Will the operational costs of running the local sites be recouped? How will the New York Times define "all the news that's fit to print?" Will the paper's brand and image take a hit? Again, the answers can only be guessed at this point.

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E-Mail Newsletters the Way to Go?

More and more web sites will be pushing newsletters into your inboxes in 2009. There is no contest when it comes to the economics of advertising revenues collected via e-newsletters versus CPM for display ads. For example, take the case of Dogster, which extensively uses newsletters:

- Use of Google AdSense can yield a CPM of 28¢

- Use of Glam Media, one of the highest-paying ad networks, would deliver a floor CPM of $2.
But that was still leaving a good amount of revenue on the table, especially considering an ad network takes half the gross.

- In addition to letting Federated Media sell some inventory, Dogster built its own Web sales force, setting CPMs at $8 to $20.

- But even that pales compared to what he charges advertisers per 1,000 views of an ad on his e-mail newsletter: a whopping $20 to $40

A few months ago, Comcast offered $125 million for DailyCandy based on newseltter advertising potential. Last month, Yelp! landed its first national ad campaign for its "Weekly Yelp!" newsletter. At first glance it may seem counter-intuitive that advertisers are willing to spend more money on advertising via low-tech e-mail newsletters. But as this BusinessWeek article points out:

"But remember that signing up for and opening an e-mail newsletter is a much bigger commitment than passively clicking on a link that takes you to a blog post. Publishers can see how many people open an e-mail, how long they read it, and how many friends they forward it to. Advertisers eat up that kind of engagement, because it's different, tangible, and more likely to result in an action such as making a purchase."

See BusinessWeek.com article for more: http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/feb2009/tc20090224_035701_page_2.htm

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Online Advertising Market to Shrink in 2009

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the online advertising market is forecasted to drop 5% in the first quarter of 2009 (by research group IDC), the market's first contraction since the dot-com bubble burst in 2001. This is a far cry from what research was suggesting only months ago - that the market would continue to grow despite the worsening economy. The Washington Post ran an article by Sarah Levy (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/25/AR2009022503245.html) that suggested two assumptions were at the root of the perpetually bullish views on online advertising:

"One was that online advertising is more actionable and more measurable than advertising in the offline world. The other was this pie chart that Yahoo’s PR department used to love to trot out showing the discrepancy between the amount of time people spend online and the percentage of advertising spend that goes online. ‘At some point, that has to balance out, right? RIGHT?’"

Measuring online advertising is turning out to be more convoluted than originally thought and metrics are still hardly reliable (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/jan2009/tc20090127_410266.htm). Sarah Levy continues to suggest there is a dearth of innovation in this space, when it's clear that innovation is what's going to grow the market. She says:

"Google-aside, I think the Web industry has gotten lazy when it comes to advertising innovation. There's too much outsourcing to the ad networks and too much of an assumption by the portals and other large properties that gaudy eyeballs will be enough. That's old media thinking."

Apparently many e-marketers are spooked by IDC's data. Hopefully this will push marketers away from old media thinking and lead to more innovation that the market requires to flourish.

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on PR

Just visited the Commission Junction site and wonder if there’s another business model in the making for PR firms.

Rather than charge advertisers a fixed retainer fee/month (usually in the 5k range for an average client), a PR firm could create additional revenue by researching sites that provide lead generation fees and pitching those products on a commission basis. With CPAs ranging in the 30 dollar range, and a show on Today reaching 3 million eyeballs, profits could range in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, just for one hit!

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The Colbert Bumb for Twitter?

In Wednesday's Colbert Report, Colbert comments on a report that 'lots of Congressmen were using their Blackberry's' during the President's Congressional Address.  It appears these Congressmen were actually posting to Twitter.  The bit demonstrates one of the benefits of Twitter: immediate access to inside information.  I'm surprised that Congressman even know about this technology, let alone comfortable enough with it to use in a situation like this.  Guess Twitter isn't just for teenagers.

The reference to Twitter starts around 3:45 seconds into the video.  

http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/219745/february-25-2009/barack-obama-s-congressional-address



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Thursday, February 26, 2009

This Blogging Thing






So if you are new to the blogging scene like me it is important to learn as much as possible from the experts.

According to the "Urban Muse" the 5 terms every blogger should know (allthough most of these were covered in class) are:

  1. Blogroll: a list of related blogs

  2. Domain name: this is the name of a website and it's considered more professional to have your own domain.

  3. Social bookmarking: allows users to search, store, and organize favorite links and access them from any computer. Examples include Delicious, Digg.com, and StumbleUpon.com.

  4. UGC: user-generated content

  5. Widget: third-party online applications that can be embedded in your website.

So now that you know enough in order to start your new blog consider the following tips iwhen constructing a new blog:


  1. Find a niche and stick to it. Most successful blogs focus on a single topic.

  2. Put your personal spin on the topic

  3. Commit to posting regularly

  4. Link to other like-minded (or unlike-minded) bloggers

  5. Get your own domain name

  6. Do a "soft" blog launch. In other words, wait until you have at least a handful of posts and you've worked out the blogging software before you announce your blog to the world.

  7. Invite more experienced bloggers to contribute

  8. Set realistic expectations for your blogging success

  9. Keep a few posts in your drafts folder

  10. Realize that you can't read everything. When you're just starting out, it's tempting to want to read the archives and sign up for the feed of every single blog in your topic area. This is admirable, but it's just not realistic.
Now in order to promote your blog consider the following:


  1. Add your link to all your profiles

  2. Comment Early and Often

  3. Create reciprocal

  4. Google/Google Alerts: Regularly google your name and your blog's name so you’ll know when people are mentioning you and leave a comment thanking them.

  5. Register with blog directories. A few examples: BlogCatalog, BlogHer, BlogWise, DelightfulBlogs, and Technorati.

It seems to me that blogging is not only art but also science and you have to consider several things before starting out. When I was seaching for blogs in the internet there are an infinite amount of blogs for a great variety of topics. Now you have all the tools to start out a new blog and to try to differentiate from the rest.


Happy Blogging!!


Sources:

http://www.urbanmusewriter.com/







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New York Times in a Recession

According to the International Herald Tribute, unlike almost every other major paper in the country, the New York Times has not significantly reduced the size of its newsroom or the content of its pages. And perhaps more so than other newspapers, the Times has made a long-term bet on the digital future, integrating its print newsroom with the Web, making its website a fully interactive news and information platform.

I think the New York Times' "last-man-standing" strategy could work. Although declining ad revenue both online and in print has weakened company's cash flow, the Times is financially more healthy (lower debt ratio) than its peer. On the other hand, growing internet ads should outweigh the erosion of ink-and-paper revenue. If New York Times can maintian its quality and leading position in both online and offline news, it would eventually be in even better position as competitors drop out before the market turns around .

Source: http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/02/09/business/09times.php

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Yahoo: to sell or not to sell?

Yahoo's CFO Blake Jorgen said on Wednesday that Yahoo is "not opposed" to sell its search business. However, any deal, whether a partnership or a sale, would be done for "the right reasons and the right economics."

With Google's dominating marketshare in the online search business, Yahoo search will remain a small player in the market. Selling search allows Yahoo to focus on content and save hundreds of millions in operating costs. However, Yahoo also needs to the likelihood of display advertising continues to be weak. In that case, Yahoo will need this search buffer for the foreseeable future.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/businessNews/idUSTRE51O81U20090225?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews

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Wifi on Flights

Alaska airlines has joined Virgin Airlines and American Airlines in testing wifi on some of its flights. Assuming it is successful, it could soon be on all flights.  The airline billed the addition as an improvement to the customer experience.  It'll be interesting to see if this eventually lead to cell phones on airlines.  Wifi is less intrusive, but it's reasonable that passengers may demand the service if the technology is available.  

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/02/26/alaska-airlines-starts-testing-satellite-based-wi-fi-services/

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Obama isn’t the only one talking about transparency

As we all know by now, Facebook hit another bump in its road last week when it introduced new terms for its users that seemed, well, controlling and user unfriendly. This led to a public outcry and retrenchment on Facebook’s part. Today when I logged on to Facebook the next chapter of the saga was in front of me.

Facebook is announcing a new approach that allows users to have a role in determining the policies that govern the site. For more information and links to the groups containing our new draft policies, check out the Facebook Blog.

I can only imagine that the entire social networking community is happy to sit back and let Facebook figure out what to do in these uncharted waters. Facebook, in this move, seems to be acknowledging that the internet has unleashed a force that it has to reckon with. The aggregation of people into social networks is not only connecting people but seems to be creating a consumer/user rights movement.

The Facebook blog says that history has shown that transparency and openness lead to the best outcomes. I have to give Facebook credit for continually admitting when it is wrong and having the courage to take a step back and try to create a business as unusual model. I suspect this is not the last chapter in this book. Even more interesting will be the impact Facebook’s story has on other companies.


--Kate Grossman


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Different rain in Naverland

In South-Korea 76% of internet searches are being done on search engine Naver. Where Google is not the market leader in search in China nor Japan, it seems almost like none of the South-Koreans Google anything at all. Naver does not only search but also provides an internet portal drawing together news, e-mail, discussion groups, stockmarket information, videos, restaurant reviews etc. According to The Economist some 17m people visit its home-page every day and since January they have been able to customise it according to their own tastes.

The Economist has an interesting article on search-engines in South-Korea, China and Japan. The article gives as main reason for the success of other search engines the adaption to local needs. Searches require typical results in anglo-based countries, but might need to show complete different results in Asian countries. Where 'rain' leads to hits on falling water in Google, Naver brings people to results on a popular singer and actor called Rain.

If you're curious about search in Asia, read the full article at http://www.economist.com/business/displaystory.cfm?story_id=13185891

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RyanAir vesus "Lunatic Bloggers"

In my Emerging Media class we saw a demonstration of a service that allows companies to monitor blog posts -- the idea being that representatives can contact a blogger, either directly or via a comment, to answer questions or ameliorate concerns. We were all a little dubious, imagining that only a handful of firms would go to the trouble.

As it turns out, upstart RyanAir goes to the trouble. Not to answer questions or ameliorate concerns, mind you, but to insult people.

A guy named Jason Roe found what he thought was a bug on the RyanAir site, and posted it to his blog. Then the following comment appeared:
Ryanair Staff #1 Says:
February 19th, 2009 at 5:25 pm

jason!
you're an idiot and a liar!! fact is!
you've opened one session then another and requested a page meant for a different session, you are so stupid you dont even know how you did it! you dont get a free flight, there is no dynamic data to render which is prob why you got 0.00. what self respecting developer uses a crappy CMS such as word press anyway AND puts they're mobile ph number online, i suppose even a prank call is better than nothing on a lonely sat evening!

This was followed by equally caustic messages from "Ryanair Staff #2" and "Ryanair Staff #3".

You'd think it was just some idiot impersonating the airline, right? Nope. Someone traced the source IP (internet) address and sure enough these came from RyanAir.

The response from the company was even more baffling:
Ryanair can confirm that a Ryanair staff member did engage in a blog discussion.

It is Ryanair policy not to waste time and energy corresponding with idiot bloggers and Ryanair can confirm that it won't be happening again. Lunatic bloggers can have the blog sphere all to themselves as our people are far too busy driving down the cost of air travel.

Does this seem like a good internet marketing strategy? Would you trust these people with your luggage? I'd hope the answer is no.


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Idealist.org - A great platform to reach out to the non-profit world


Today I've been using Idealist.org and immediately had a first success. www.Idealist.org is a networking service focused on the non-profit world. With Idealist you can look for jobs, conferences, volunteer opportunities and organizations in the non-profit world. Based on your preferences you can receive posts on things that are of your interest.

Idealist is a project of Action Without Borders, a nonprofit organization founded in 1995 with offices in the United States and Argentina. As Idealist promotes itself, "it is an interactive site where people and organizations can exchange resources and ideas, locate opportunities and supporters, and take steps toward building a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives."

You can receive alerts when interesting jobs or events are posted, listen to podcasts on relevant topics and stay up-to-date by participating on the blog or subscribing to the RSS-feeds.Today I've posted an invitation for a leadership program focused on the non-profit world, and received the first subscriber via Idealist within the hour! Great medium with many organizations participating in the network.


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DRM and online music

In January, Apple announced that entire iTunes catalog will be going DRM free by the end of 2009. In class, I raised a question about how this shift to DRM free will effect the online music industry. Jeremy kind of shook the question off saying that the average consumer doesn't really care about DRM versus DRM free music but I beg to differ. I think the shift to DRM free will fundamentally change the online music landscape.

(Disclaimer: I am an Amazon MP3 buyer that uses iTunes to manage my music)

DRM and proprietary file formats essentially created huge market barriers to entry for competitors and really allowed companies to force integration across a suite of devices (see Apple iPod, TV, and the Mac). This type of integration allowed Apple, through the simple sale of iTunes songs, make people want to buy more Apple devices. With music labels now willing to go DRM free this can set the stage for the return of more non-proprietary file format music stores (amazon) which lowers switching costs for users and makes the device integration stories less compelling. This could open the door for more market entrants and mean bad news for Apple.

There is still the issue of Apple continuing to use its AAC format with DRM free music, but why bother with the headache and deal with issues of device incompatibility and possible obsolescence.

A recent article also brings up an interesting privacy issue with AAC Apple will always know who you are.

Maybe it will take a while for people to realize the differences but all it takes is one good consumer awareness campaign. I already have a tagline: "Choose Freedom"

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Need customers? Online couponing can help

Interesting article from this week's WSJ about the burgeoning online couponing market. As a brand manager in a former life, we were always weary of couponing tactics as they recruited the wrong type of people into our brand. (i.e. cost senstitive ones) However, with all households becoming increasingly more price sensitive, coupon usage is no longer a cost savings tool only for lower income demographics. And, as people who are online tend to come from a higher income bracket than those who clip print coupons, online couponing seems an ideal way to recruit desireable customers. Mark my words - this will be a big business.

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The Growing Popularity of the Cell Phone Novel

In Japan, where cell phones are even more integrated into people's lives than here in the U.S., the popularity of the cell phone novel is huge, and it is beginning to grow in other countries. This media format can lead to real success for budding authors in Japan. CNN reports on a 22-year old author who began a novel mainly by blogging the chapters. Eventually, publishers caught on and offered to release the book in print. The book has become a best-seller in Japan. While there is question regarding the ability to characterize these novels as literature, there is no denying their popularity and the opportunity for traditional book publishers. As the print publishing world is facing serious profitability issues and is looking for the next Harry Potter to provide sustainable revenue, mobile publishing could be an interesting model to explore. As CNN reports about Japan,
"By 2007, half of the country's 10 best-selling novels were written on cell phones, according to book distributor Tohan while last year mobile novels and comics were a $240 million market in Japan, which is over 5 percent of the country's $4.5 billion total mobile content market, according to Japan's Mobile Content Forum."
It will be interesting to see how sweeping an initiative this is and how long it will take to get to the U.S.

- Jennifer Rogers

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Thinking of buying the Kindle 2? Read this first

When buying a high-value product, the internet is normally the first place to turn for product reviews. The Kindle 2 by Amazon is no different. For students in the market to buy, i thought I'd bring their attention to a great summary of the top 10 reasons to buy and top 10 reasons not to buy the Kindle 2. Check it out below...

http://www.crunchgear.com/2009/02/25/10-reasons-to-buy-a-kindle-2-and-10-reasons-not-to/

G

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The ladders revenue model

We learnt in lecture 5 about disintermediation and employment sites of which there are now many. The customers typically are the HR managers and recruiters.

The internet has made it so easy for individuals to apply for jobs that they have the remotest chance of getting, leading to a proliferation in applications, too many for the HR crew to handle. Previously, they had used software to 'read' resumes for keywords to save time.

however, theladders.com seems to have a different idea. To reduce applications, they charge the job applicant (about $30 for a month) to view and apply to jobs, arguing that now only the serious applicants would apply. So their paying customers are now recruiters AND job seekers.

This strategy seems to have worked, as they had 2008 revenues to the tune of $75m! (as confirmed by the CEO in our Business Tech and Innovation class)

G

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Online Communities Add Value for Retailers

On his Marketing & Strategy Innovation blog, Matt Rhodes discusses the imperative of differentiation at retail during an economic downturn. Compounded by the fact that the internet makes price comparison has become significantly easier than ever before due to transparancy on the internet, price wars are bound to happen during such a downturn. As such, it becomes even more imperative to give your brand a story, to differentiate it among consumers to maintain any sort of loyalty. The post calls attention to a number of online communities that are making strides at adding value to the customer base of each respective brand.

For instance, Wal-Mart inaugurated the blog Elevenmoms, where eleven women would blog about their lives and provide tips about saving money. The popularity of the site has grown, and the number of bloggers has grown with it to 21 women. Through this small site, Wal-Mart provides its key customers with a degree of accessibility and approachability not normally expected from this company. For Wal-Mart, often perceived as a faceless company, a reluctant necessity due to its unmatchable low prices, the brand is capturing loyalty now so that as the economy recovers and people regain the ability to trade up, these customers may not defect because the brand has built a connection and initiated a conversation. For a brand like Wal-Mart, initiating such a dialogue could prove to create a sustainable competitive advantage.

-Jennifer Rogers

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monetizing social networks?

I saw a presentation in another class that identified a way to monetize social networks. The company is called Media 6 degrees (http://www.media6degrees.com/) and they have created an algorithm that identifies who your best friends are in facebook without collecting any private data. They then argue that a site that you visit (eg Reebok's website) would form the basis of a good re-targeting ad campaign for these friends (as birds of a feather flock together). So far, their results have been impressive, with all clients experiencing a significant increase in ROI!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Social networking and museums

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7902323.stm
I was excited to see this posting about how museums in the UK are collaborating on an outreach site that will allow museum goers to cross-search their collections, form online interest groups, and create their own digital galleries they can share. This initiative really shows how non-profits can use Web 2.0 to drive visits and interest. I also think the collaborative efforts is inspired, and definitely the way to go. It will create a much stronger online destination—and given the financial difficulties faced by cultural institutions right now, the efforts will create cost savings when compared to going it alone. Also, artwork can even be thought of like friend contacts on Facebook. The more pieces online, the greater the value of the site—the larger the collection from which to create your own “art network.” This site will also prove valuable to the promotion of special exhibitions—which can now be tied into all the other cultural sites in London. I would love to see American museums participating—maybe one day we might even see a super museum, where hundreds of institutions offer their collections online together. This could create an effective forum for academics and art enthusiasts alike. Ultimately, this digital effort helps museums become complimentors and not competitors with one another.

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Microtransactions Could Change Use of Internet

Microtransactions or micropayments are “means for transferring very small amounts of money, in situations where collecting such small amounts of money with the usual payment systems is impractical.” This system of collecting small payments has been a new source of revenue for companies who provide content over the Internet.

The South Koreans were the first to pioneer the concept of microtransactions as a viable business model for video games and mobile gaming. In the gaming world, revenue is created in small increments by getting players to purchase items or money in the game for an enhanced gaming experience. These small payments, over time, have added up to a considerable amount, and have proven to be quite successful for Korean gaming companies. On average, they have created 30-40% extra revenue and up to 300% in some cases. Certain ell-structured games have the potential to generate revenues in excess of the revenues made from actual downloads.

This is a thought-provoking concept that marketers could adapt to fit any company web site, blog, or widget. By creating an interactive site with fresh content that people want to see time and again, companies can leverage avatars or games with microtransaction add-ons as an additional revenue stream. While this would likely only be successful with major name brands with exciting content that drives customers to continually return to the site, it could also be used as a temporary tactic to increase brand awareness.

Later on, when wireless mobile carriers shift to “more innovative ways of generating data revenues from their more stable client bases…microtransactions are likely to team with an evolved form of digital advertising to help shape the evolution of this young industry.”

Source: http://emagazine.credit-suisse.com/app/article/index.cfm?fuseaction=OpenArticle&aoid=222634&coid=118&lang=EN

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Online Ad Spending Shrinking

Surprise!  The WSJ reports that online advertising is not actually immune to the worst financial crises in our lifetimes (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123558776209174437.html).  At this point, it almost sounds comical to assume otherwise – with the rest of economic world crumbling all around us, why would we assume the internet would provide a safe haven? 

 

Actually, as Sara Lacy points out on Techcrunch (http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/25/online-ads-even-the-evangelists-turning-bearish/), there are a few interesting reasons why internet advertising should remain resilient on a relative basis –

1)       “Online advertising is more actionable and more measurable than advertising in the offline world”

2)       There remains a major discrepancy between relative amount of consumer time spent online and the relative ad-dollar spent online

 

A third point, I might add:

3)       Online advertising, on a relative basis, is still cheaper than other forms of marketing such as television advertising – so corporate cost cutting measures might first whack TV ad budgets before moving to the less costly internet marketing budget

 

Unfortunately for the internet ecosystem, even these compelling factors are not strong enough to counteract the hurricane headwinds of the global economic crises.  IDC is now predicting internet advertising may actually contract by 5% in the first quarter of 2009, representing the first contraction in online ad spending since 2001. 

 

While this reflects a troubling trend, I do not believe it is a result of a systemic shift with regards to internet advertising.  As the economy recovers and corporates begin rededicating resources back to marketing budgets, we might even begin to see newly reinvigorated shift towards of internet marketing as companies will likely emerge more sensitive to cost-effective and measurable marketing channels.  


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decline in ad spending forecasted for 1Q09

According to IDC, online advertising is expected to decline in the first quarter of 2009. This is the first decline since the dot com bubble burst. Preliminary results from 4Q08 have showed steady overall levels of online advertising; with an increase in search ads but a decrease in display and classified ads. Search ads are expected to decrease in 1Q and display and classifieds to plummet even further.

This is predicted to continue into 2Q, but is expected to start turning around mid-2009. However, I don't know on what basis IDC feels that the current trend will turn in mid-2009, there really is not evidence to support that claim. In order to keep online advertising lucrative, search companies need to find ways to incentivize advertisers to keep advertising. As advertising is their bread and butter, this decline will have significant ramifications going forward. Display ad prices may need to decrease in order to keep up their popularity.

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No Place to Play

When one is on the job one knows that employers have legitimate business interests in monitoring internet use in the workplace. By monitoring the way employees use their time on the internet they can make sure that they are being productive and avoid the loss of proprietary information. But how far should employers go to try to monitor employer's behavior outside the workplace, specially with candidates who are not even in their worforece. Where does one draw the privacy line?

According to a new study by Career Builder 1 in every 5 employers use social networking sites to screen prospective employees and 34% reported that they rejected candidates based on what they discovered during their online search.

This are reasons employers give for not hiring employees when revising their OSN:

  • 41% - content posted about alcohol or drug use
  • 40% - “inappropriate of provocative” pictures
  • 29% - candidate appeared to have poor communications skills
  • 28% - candidate bad-mouthed their previous company or fellow employee
  • 27% - candidate lied about qualifications
  • 22% - discriminatory comments related to race, gender, religion, etc.
  • 22% - candidate’s screen name was unprofessional
  • 21% - candidate was linked to criminal behavior
  • 19% - candidate shared confidential information from previous employers

How worried should we be now that we are looking for jobs? And is this good practice for the current employer's employees. I believe that it is not totally wrong to check candidates as long as any behavior that seems to concern the employer is discussed with the candidate. We want to form part of an organization that makes the best hiring decision possible, 30 minutes interviews are sometimes not enough to get to know the candidate, so if this requires the use of OSN research we simply have to be careful how we portray ourselves.

Sources:

No Place to Play: Current Employee Privacy Rights in Social Networking Sites
Gina L. Genova
University of California, Santa Barbara

New Study Shows Increase in Online Applicant Screening
Posted by
Molly DiBianca On September 18, 2008

http://www.delawareemploymentlawblog.com/2008/09/new_study_shows_increase_in_on.html


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New ad financed online game

Today, id Software opened up the BETA phase of the browser-based and ad financed first person multi user shooter game Quake Live for everyone. The game can be played for free as long as the user views some ads that come with it — I tried it out, but could not see any ad apart from their own Quake ads, so I am not exactly sure what the advertisement will look like. Probably there will be banners on the website right next to the game window and maybe also whenever you have been fraged (killed) and wait to respawn (play again).

This idea has been around for a while and there certainly are several advertisement agencies that enable companies to place ads inside or next to Games. Nielsen Media Research offers a video games ratings service (similar to Nielsen ratings) called GamePlay Metrics to serve in-game advertisers.

At least now that the offer is new, Quake live seems to be successful in terms of usage: when I logged in to download the ActiveX plug-in, I was in a line at position # 10947 and had to wait more than 30 min to get to the download.

I have not had too much personal exposure to this kind of advertisement, yet, but think it is pretty interesting. I could not find current figures, but the game advertising market is estimated to grow to $1.8 billion by 2010 according to Massive Incorporated. This is pretty impressive and once again shows how much money is moved with digital/internet advertising.

I just figured out that ads in games is a topic in next week's class - you may view this as an appetizer ;-)

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How to create links

Hi classmates.

I saw a couple of time that some of you are not creating links in the blog but just copy the URI as text. In order to create a link, in the "Compose" tab, highlight the part of the text that should be the link text and click the "Link" button (that's the tiny earth with the chain on top). A pop-up will open where you can enter the URI or hyperlink location whatever you want to call that.

Enjoy.

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Hulu Marketing Aimed at the “Greatest Generation”

Hulu.com, an online TV viewing website, had a commercial with Alec Baldwin on TV during the Super Bowl to appeal to Baby Boomers and attract even more of them to their site. The blog entitled “Hulu Marketing Aimed at the ‘Greatest Generation’” poses an interesting marketing tactic. Hulu.com is using traditional media to market services that are solely on the website. For companies launching their services primarily though the Internet, this is an option that is worth considering.

An article in the Wall Street Journal indicates that “most well-known Web 2.0 properties like YouTube, Facebook, MySpace or Twitter, their rapid adoption was fueled by 18-24 year olds.” This was different with Hulu.com. Most of the visitors when the site first launched were members of the Baby Boomer generation, which seems to be a first for a Web 2.0 property. This is likely due to the fact that Hulu.com offers more traditional media, such as television shows and movies, instantly and sometimes even in high definition.

“So, it seems, the so-called Greatest Generation may be leading us to the true convergence of television and computer—not the web-savvy 18-24 year olds, and marketed through the power of traditional media players.”

Source: http://daveibsen.typepad.com/5_blogs_before_lunch/2009/02/hulu-marketing-aimed-at-the-greatest-generation.html

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Fictional twittering - maybe an art, maybe just weird

There was quite a buzz when, a couple of weeks ago, the (real life) people behind the twittering of several characters from AMC's Mad Men finally revealed their identities to their many thousand fans:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123439568330074869.html?mod=article-outset-box

I don't Twitter at all... But although I'm a big fan of Mad Men, if/when I start to tweet (?) I wouldn't follow the tweets of Mad Men characters. Probably.

But I think I can see myself following the tweets of other characters (if they existed). I can imagine some fantastic dialogue from Jane Austen heroines, for example. Or I can imagine myself following the tweets of long-dead historical characters - what would Thomas Jefferson be tweeting about today? Or I may even follow a whole new story - a murder mystery tweeted in real time? Great subway reading to catch up on and check in with throughout the day.

New social "technology" always complicates social interaction. When I studied Jane Austen (obviously pre-MBA track), we studied the dynamics of letter-writing - the time delay between when letters were written and when they arrived, the manner in which they were sent and delivered, the dynamics of who could or did read them apart from the addressee, the importance of saving them for reevaluation.... were all important plot dynamics.

There is good literature about - and written through - email. And an art is developing around the Facebook status update. Twitter is a new frontier --- although maybe it's too distant and too weird, and won't last enough to evolve?

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Here's a gift card...to buy fake stuff

Atlanta-based IinComm, a gift card maker, said its "game currency" card business grew 200% in 2008. The company describes the reason the market has grown:

For the past few years, the company has grown its business in game currency cards for online games. Kids like these games, but they don’t have the credit cards to pay subscription fees or authenticate their identities. The gift cards get around that. And, as a result, the cards give retailers a way to embrace online games, which otherwise might be consider a threat to retail because they bypass traditional distribution.

The company has relationships with more than 60 game companies and has cards in more than 145,000 stores.

The main use for these gift cards is paying for subscriptions online and ... (drum roll, please) buying virtual goods! Just imagine, you can remember at the last minute at the checkout counter that you need to buy your nephew a gift, and you can spend money on him so he can buy a new sword to slay ogres with. You'll be the coolest uncle on the block.

People estimate the size of this "game currency" market to be $75-300 million. The overall prepaid gift card market is about $100 billion in revenue per year. Pretty impressive figures.

This gift card market is representative of the greater trend in mass acceptance of video games. Companies are doing everything they can to get on board the video game wave.

As a marketer, it could be an interesting promotion to offer coupons for free online gaming currency with Pepsi "bottle cap" promotions and the like. The more touchpoints you can get with the consumers the better. Imagine the mind share you would get from someone going to 7-Eleven to get a Pepsi, they pop the top to find out they've won $5 in Second Life currency, and then go online to some Pepsi-logo'd ATM to redeem the coupon. It would be great repetition and a creative way to get more touchpoints with consumers, increasing their awareness of and favorability toward your brand.

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Multi-Channel Marketing: Lessons from Politics

After Obama’s inauguration speech, I marveled at how all this came about. There is no doubt that he is a charismatic speaker whose intellect is admirable. He was also able to rally young voters in way our country hasn’t seen since JFK (maybe). But I think what really helped his campaign was his sophisticated online marketing campaigns. Given how successful his team was at promoting his cause, I think there are lessons marketers can learn from their approach.

On eStrategy, an Internet marketing blog, David Erickson highlights how the “Obama campaign ran an extremely strategic, multi-channel marketing campaign that was far more sophisticated than most commercial marketing campaigns, let along political campaigns.”

I agreed with the article that Obama was unique in his approach to leveraging the Internet precisely because he infused innovation into all online aspects of his campaign. He had a website that updated his constituents on a weekly, if not daily basis. It asked for donations and helped pull organizers together in one central place. He had Facebook campaigns, complete with campaign buttons that users could gift to each other. According to the article, his team even invested in video game advertising, but he had the right idea. The young men he was targeting “are the hardest to reach because they spend so much time playing video games.”

I think these innovations are techniques from which all marketers can learn. For one, it is important to be ubiquitous, and although that’s a well-known strategy, the Obama team took this concept a step farther with this campaign. For example, they understood that you need to tailor your message and use the tools that your constituents are using or they will ignore you. This is one of the reasons the use of Facebook was particularly useful in rallying the youth vote, for example.

Sources:
1) http://e-strategyblog.com/2009/01/how-did-new-technologies-play-a-role-in-obamas-campaign-interview-notes/
2) http://e-strategyblog.com/2008/11/barack-obamas-multichannel-marketing/

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Dealing with a Tough Economy

The global economic crisis is something that seems to be on the minds of everyone these days. It’s all we see on the television and it’s the subject of water-cooler conversations everywhere we go. Given that retail sales have been taking a big hit lately, I wanted to explore what advice bloggers were offering to e-commerce companies. This topic, as I mentioned, seems particularly relevant to those interested in started a business online, given the current economic climate.

One article entitled “Internet Marketing in a Tough Economy” suggests that with the help of “some online tools, a good strategy, and careful management of…campaigns, [companies] can significantly improve [their] marketing results even in a difficult economy.” This article encourages companies to leverage techniques to provide valuable information to prospects in exchange for their personal contact information, and then to continually reach out to them. They suggest using tools such as auto responders or automated emails with information for these individuals. They also suggest leveraging a blog to keep potential customers continually returning to their site for more information. The core message, as I see, it to constantly create or write new content to capture your target audience.

Another blogger writes in “Search Success in a Tough Economy – Internet Marketing” insists that keeping search marketing as a significant portion of where marketing budgets go is the way to succeed during a recession. The author suggests search marketing helps with accountability and measurability, and allows for companies to continually drive sales. Their tips include keeping search integrated into the marketing strategy, going after lower auction prices for keywords, being realistic when forecasting numbers for the year, and staying positive because, although it is slowing down, the industry is still experiencing a growth rate of 20% per year.

Sources:
1) http://ezinearticles.com/?Internet-Marketing-in-a-Tough-Economy&id=2019208
2) http://costadesigns.com/blog/search-success-in-a-tough-economy-internet-marketing/

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Teleflora's Super Bowl Ad

A recent article in Business Week entitled “Teleflora’s Super Bowl Ad Got Best Online Buzz for the Buck” poses some questions for the world of marketing. A social media tracker, Networked Insights, followed online searches before and after the Super Bowl.

What they found is that Teleflora “saw a jump of 1464% in the number of online mentions the brand got in the days immediately following the Super Bowl ad.” Cash4Gold.com and Careerbuilder.com also saw online mentions of brand increase tremendously.

Networked Insights is allegedly able to see “how big a boost each brand got for every $1 million it spent on a Super Bowl ad,” which they have dubbed “Online Buzz ROI.” Teleflora’s online buzz ROI came in at 488%. This is an interesting concept because it suggests that television advertising is not dead, as some have suggested in the past.

Rather, the argument could be made that television advertising has helped to boost the online marketing efforts in this case. The amount of “free” advertising or “buzz” these companies received online after the Super Bowl has been significant. But, on the other hand, one could argue that this has happened because people look forward to watching the Super Bowl live and are conditioned to anticipate and watch Super Bowl ads. That said, it is phenomenal how much exposure brands can have after placing one or two clever ads during this event.

Source: http://www.businessweek.com/the_thread/brandnewday/archives/2009/02/telefloras_supe.html?campaign_id=rss_blog_brandnewday

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Google's New Mini Icon

A BBC article entitled “What’s with Google’s new mini icon?” from last month discussed Google’s multi-colored, ever-changing home page logo. A visit to www.google.com on any given day shows a variation of their logo to match a specific holiday or theme chosen by the company. This article in particular highlighted their new favicon, the icon that appears in the address bar of a web page next to the web site address, which is yet a new spin on the company’s logo.

The interesting point that the author brought up was that Google is changing the way companies market their brand on the Internet. Smith contends that Google is rewriting the way branding has been typically done in the past – the tried and true method of using the same logo over and over again. Google has shown that it is not the size or design of the logo that necessarily matters, it is how often you use it and put it in front of prospective customers. As described in the article, “the world’s leading search engine…has achieved web domination without ever having had an actual logo.”

When you think of Google, it is easy to picture the letters displayed in primary colors. Instead of an actual logo, the company touts a “logotype,” around which they continually change it to fit various themes. While there is no “universally recognized icon” and many think this would dilute a brand, Google actually is moving with the theme of the Internet age – ever-changing, unfixed, and constantly morphing. “Logos are set to become fluid, ever-changing, customizable, even personalized entities and Google is the first global brand that understands this,” says Steve Plimsoll, the head of digital at brand consultancy FutureBrand. As the article emphasizes, the fast-changing nature of Google’s digital world dictates it.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7839744.stm

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Google TV ads

Google has recently shut down its operations to sell Radio and Print ads, however, it continues to try and make TV Ads successful. Google has partnered with SpotMixer to help advertisers without TV spots to make their won. Google seems to have made some progress with direct response ads, however, that's far short of the lofty goals it has. Google's intention was to serve ads to the same sponsors one would see on TV - Fortune 500 firms. Many advertisers have been pleased with the level of data & analytics offered by Google, however, there has been dissatisfaction with the level of uncertainty about whether or not their spot will ever air as Google uses an auction system.
Google at one time seemed invincible and the media lavished praise, now as this article demonstrates reporters are looking more closely and now focusing more on the what's not working than what is (they still make a fortune).
http://www.clickz.com/3632879

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Oppurtunities in social media marketing - campaigns that can be time intensive rather than budget intensive

In a recent report, “Justifying Social Marketing Spending”, Forrester’s Michael Greene touches on some important social marketing planning aspects.

The two graphs below tell the story without words.


While social networking sites became a major attraction for users, marketing managers are late in adopting social networks marketing strategies.

Social networking marketing initiatives can be relative inexpensive (company blog, pod casts, joining existing social networks) and in the current market conditions, marketing managers should explore these opportunities which require time more than budget.

While measurement and standards are still developing in the social networks marketing space, marketers should go a head and start explore the influence of different campaigns. Few simple suggestions:
• Twitter presence
• Facebook fans page
• Official blog
• If budget available – Facebook and SocialMedia.com are two interesting opportunities

All of the above suggestions require a lot of dedication, good writer and willingness to explore new ways to communicate with customers and stakeholder. However, budget should not be a constraint to launch any of these initiatives and therefore marketers should start explore these options ASAP...

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Is Facebook "ruining our minds"?

Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford University, is concerned that the internet age in general (video games, etc) and social networking sites in particular (Facebook) may be contributing to an increased incidence of attention disorders:

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2009/02/25/oxford-scientist-facebook-might-ruin-minds/

The gist of her argument is that by exposing and conditioning our minds to rapid information feeds, we could lose to ability to focus on the speed of normal life. The implications for three-hour seminars on marketing and the internet remain to be determined.

Needless to say, Facebook isn't particularly concerned about her accusations at the moment. Video game developers can point to studys which say essentially the opposite - that video games can hone critical thinking and observation skills.

Her point of view, however, prompted a discussion with the oldest Facebook user I know, my 90-year-old grandmother, who I visited (in person) last weekend. My grandmother's Facebook profile is not just a formality. She checks her profile at least daily, and uses it as a primary means of keeping in touch with friends and family (she joined before 3 of her 4 children, but after all of her grandchildren). She sends messages, comments on photos, and posts her own photos - mostly of her garden and artwork (she paints and draws), for the rest of us to admire.

She scoffed at the idea that Facebook is ruining our minds. In fact, she says, she loves FB precisely because it "is like when everyone used to write letters." From her point of view, the low point in human communication was the age of the telephone, when people could "call and drone on for ages" - and "no one has the time for that." Email was an improvement, but still seemed fairly impersonal, and she felt good manners required writing more than a couple of sentences.

She thinks Facebook enables the kind of expressive, short communication she used to enjoy with friends long ago. She can write a couple of lines, and maybe include a little photo or drawing or two, or a copy of an article or something else that's interesting, and actually have fun keeping in touch with people. FB has the advantages of her old hobbies, and more.

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Starting an internet company isn't for everyone

The article below references a number of questions any aspiring entrepreneur should ask themeselves:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123498006564714189.html

The article isn't at all specific to internet businesses, but my observation is that succeeding in a lot of internet businesses IS specific to possessing the specific skills of an entrepreneur.

Questions such as...
- are you willing to forego your lifestyle (pay, vacation) for several years?
- is your spouse or significant other onboard?
- what's your tolerance for losing a lot of money?

...aren't about working in the online space, but answering Yes to these questions is, for many people, as important to their success as the elements of the business plan of their internet start-up.

I think an interesting extension of thinking about this from a personal point of view is thinking about how eCommerce has been and continues to be shaped by people who DO fit this profile. As the industry matures, I think it will become attractive to broader spectrum of personality types - and I think it will benefit from this type of diversity. I think there are plenty of talented business people who could plan and implement the development of a revenue model for Twitter - and that that's part of the reason why they don't work for Twitter already.

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72.5% of all digital mobile TV on this planet earth is in Japan


According to the Today's post @ eurotechnology.com ,72.5% of all mobile phones with digital TV globally are in Japan. This is not suprising for Japanese, because the mobile internet revolution with i-Mode began in February 1999, then it has moved into the 1seg* mobile TV arena as the the global forerunner. Mobile Ad has already been successful in Japan.

*1seg (ワンセグ, wansegu) is a mobile terrestrial digital broadcasting service in Japan. Service began experimentally during 2005 and commercially on April 1, 2006. Until end of March 2008, Japanese regulation enforced that the programs on 1seg are fundamentally the same as those broadcast on the equivalent HDTV channel.In fiscal year 2007, total average 45.0% of mobile phone has 1seg reception capability out of 22.2 million units sold, the percent has been increased 26.8% in April 2007 to 64.2% at end of fiscal year March 2008.

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Lions, Tigers, and MySpace with Full-fledged Webmail... Oh my!

So MySpace hasn't yet declared anything, but they have clearly been taking several steps towards launching a webmail service. Assuming significant adoption from active users, this move could make MySpace one of the largest email providers on the web.

A new feature just released by MySpace now allows users to send a message to multiple friends at once. It actually populates pictures in the "To:" line as you enter in addresses, making it easier to confirm that you're messaging the right people.



In addition to this, users can now view if their Sent messages have been read, and they can attach video files to outgoing messages.

While it is clear MySpace is increasing its email capabilities, they are still missing the big piece of offering a dedicated name@myspace.com which would allow incoming email from different applications.
Facebook has also slowly been adding features to its messaging platform, and though they also haven't communicated any definitive messages, they do want to be the central hub of social communication on the web - so the idea isn't too far fetched that they would go the webmail route.


While clearly both social networks would benefit from a 'stickiness' standpoint by enhancing their messaging and email capabilities, the benefits to launching a full-fledged webmail service for either player would be questionable. Basically all members of these social networking sites already have designated email addresses - it is normally a profile requirement to join. While messaging capability on these sites is very important, it is hard to imagine most users fully leveraging MySpace webmail when they have several other email accounts, and there are a good number of messages users wouldn't want to manage while social networking, particularly given TOS content ownership, professionalism, etc.
I think it would be an additional cost for most of these sites with little payback as people have a multitude of email addresses already, and many options for free webmail are currently out there today. If you want to email people on MySpace, you use MySpace, but otherwise it is just as easy to email everyone else from a different account.

The article I referenced for this blog can be found at the following site: http://www.techcrunch.com/2009/02/24/myspace-inches-closer-to-offering-full-fledged-webmail-service/

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What happens at TechCrunch... or -- when things go sour in a blog

TechCrunch is one of the leading if not the leader blog reporting on internet, innovation and tech issues with an emphasis on start ups, VCs and everything else that is of interest to the Bay Area people (oh yeah... and 2-3 people in NYC).

Posting on Tech Crunch is an essential step for any start up that needs to raise money and an invitation to the Tech Crunch 50 conference is almost a blank VC check.

However, in recent months, following a serious of embarrassing incidents, it seems that Tech Crunch is under a lot of pressure with some of the key people leaving the blog with Editors Michael Arrington and Erick Schonfeld announcing temporary or permanent leave. These changes, coupled with a serious deterioration in posts quality and few inappropriate posts threatens TechCrunch superiority in the space.

Allen Stern from the competing blog CenterNetworks publish a very interesting post today (link here) that touches on the risks that other blogs and companies bear and how cautious should people be before posting.

This is an important lesson for any company that uses the blogosphere:

  • be careful when posting - there is no way back once the button is pressed
  • be careful when collaborating with blogs and relating your brand with theirs

It seems that TechCrunch lost something on the way to the top -- maybe they just got to arrogant or maybe it is their competition that is trying to trash them.

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The Gorgeou$ne$$ of Facebook Connect

A recent interview with FT.com's (Financial Times) Managing Director Rob Grimshaw opened my eyes to a huge value in Facebook's new Facebook Connect login platform. FT.com's main goal is to maximize revenue from its website (obviously). It can do that through charging paid subscriptions, requiring free user registration, free access or some combination. What FT chooses to do is allow people to see only a few articles for free upon a free registration, then you have to pay to see any more articles.

What this registration requirement does is it allows FT to gather demographic information on its users, and then target ads to them that they are more likely to be interested in; therefore, the ad buyers are willing to pay more on a CPM/CPC/CPA basis. Some advertisers are willing to pay almost $100 on a CPM basis.

What Grimshaw mentions he has tried in the past to get more demographic data on his users, is he has offered more free page views to the non-paying users if they give him more info on themselves.

Where Facebook Connect comes in is this...

Imagine if when you logged into FT.com by using your Facebook data, FT was able to get access to all the data you had volunteered to Facebook. Then FT could target highly specific ads to you and FT.com could generate a heck of a lot more revenue.

So the question is...how much would FT pay to Facebook to get access to your data?

This isn't totally going to get them there, but this is a step in the right direction for Facebook to get back to that $15B valuation.

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Internet viewers are older than you think

Nielsen's most recent "three-screen" report (ie, TV, online video, mobile video), aside from saying that we are watching more of everything, says that the video audience is surprisingly older than you might think.

The most ironic fact was that:

"Parents who complain about their kids spending too much time on the computer might want to check their own online time. Kids and young adults age 12-24 spent roughly 13 hours a month on the Internet. But adults age 35-55 spent roughly 36 hours in that same time."


What is additionally interesting, is that the online video audience is even older, as more than 50% of online video is watched by people aged 25 to 54. Also, seniors 65+ consumed almost 27 hours of online content, a generous portion in line with some younger demographics.

What does this mean for us? As a marketer, online video is not just an emerging medium for teens and for marketing experiments. Online video is a serious channel with eye-catching, ROI-boosting features that must be considered in the marketing mix when producing or buying media for clients.

Especially as mobile data transfers become faster, mobile video will become increasingly important to communicate marketing messages and acquire customers. Consider the possibilities of having certain video ads run on a mobile phone depending on the GPS-location of that user. You could target a video of a localized food special or car ad, offering to come in for a test drive at a dealer within a mile radius of you. Getting a video for a restaurant with sizzling images of food or a video of a new BMW driving around would be much more inticing for a consumer to try or buy the item than a simple display ad.

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Tropicana Goes Suburban



Wow. The guys at the Arnell Group, a design and advertising firm, are really messing up. They can't seem to get any campaign right. Their latest blunder was in redesigning the packaging for Pepsi's Tropicana brand orange juice to look like a generic carton of orange milk. Nothing about it screams OJ, except for the little half orange cap--incidently the only part of the packaging Pepsi will keep for its lower calorie juice. The rest will revert to old. See the links below:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/23/business/media/23adcol.html?ref=media

What makes this case relevant to our class discussions, is that Pepsi got wind of its fatal packaging error, not just through a decline in sales, but through blogs. The consumer spoke via his/her keyboard, and Pepsi had to listen. There are ever-increasing examples of corporations having to react publicly to the negative press they receive online (see Facebook, Johnson & Johnson), and it really seems as though the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Somehow one little blogger can get very loud via the links or hits he/she gets when his/her complaint resonates with the larger public. Mainstream media is forced to take notice, and Joe the Plumber from Nowhere, Middle-America all of sudden has a platform and a public forum through which to kvetch. This is, perhaps, another fine example of the democratization of America. 

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The top10 Innovative Companies in Web 2.0

There is a post in fastcompany.com this month, ranking top 10 web2.0 companies.
Although some of them may not be players in Web 2.0(it depends on the defenition of "web2.0")and criteria is not clear, all of these companies have outstanding concepts. All of these are very famous but if there is a company you don't know, it's worth checking it.

  1. 1.Google: With Google Docs and the new Chrome browser, the search titan continues to take aim at Microsoft.

  2. 2.Facebook: The social network that everyone loves to hate (but secretly loves anyway) overtook MySpace with 150 million active users.

  3. 3.Digg: More than 35 million visitors per month submit 20,000 stories a day to the site. A recent $29 million financing round will keep the crowd thumbing through the downturn.

  4. 4.Twitter: The microblogging phenom is adding up to 10,000 users a day, with the likes of The New York Times, JetBlue, and Lance Armstrong Tweeting.

  5. 5.Meebo: More than 40 million users instant-message and chat across the Web through any format including the iPhone. A new partnership with Universal Music will connect chatters with artists, while a $25 million financing round in 2008 will fuel '09 expansion in Asia.

  6. 6.FriendFeed: Relatively new to the life-streaming melee, FriendFeed aggregates every comment, posted picture, and status update from 59 Web services.

  7. 7.Ning: More than 700,000 custom social networks have popped up on Ning, the platform that lets people make their own facebooks. The site now attracts 2,500 to 3,000 new networks a day.

  8. 8.MySpace: Make fun of the chaos, but MySpace is the only social network that has made serious progress with targeted marketing. MyAds generates a reported $140,000 to $180,000 in daily revenue, making it a $50 billion business in theory.

  9. 9.Yelp: With 4 million user-submitted reviews of everything from corner cafés to dog groomers, Yelp can make or break local businesses nationwide.

  10. 10.Kayak: Already operating in 11 markets including India and China, the travel search engine is aggressively expanding in Europe. The profitable site boosted revenue by 240% last year.

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