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Thursday, March 27, 2008

The $470,000 Question

Another great example to prove that the conversation is happening and now greatly amplified by the internet. You better make sure that you are listening and understanding how the conversation can evolve.

Here is a story that came out Tuesday about Wal~Mart suing an ex-employee to recoup medical benefits as per the terms of the plan. I don't know enough of the details to comment. What I want this post (and your comments) to focus on is the question:

"Is the conversation happening worth the $470,000?"

This is story is all over the blogs and the greater Internet and, as you can guess, the response is mostly negative. Below is a post on Youtube from a popular video blogger that only after one day has over 160,000 views and growing very fast. (The comment is about half way through and an FYI the first part may be a little rough for some of you.)

Just remember that everything you do can now become a viral conversation that overpowers your planned brand messaging, this isn't something you can control but something you can understand and participate in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Microsoft and Google battle for the Sky

Sure enough just after I posted about Google Sky I noticed over on Mitch Joel's blog a posting about Microsoft's Worldwide telescope.

The preview videos look great, as does the TED presentation, and I can't wait to see how it compare once it is live. It will also be interesting to see what Google and Microsoft will do to improve the product vs the others.

A little bit of titan competition to help us all reach the stars!

Another Google Innovation.....

Ok - one more, Google has also launched a new portal for non-profits that gives them access to a group of existing services plus access to Google grants to support advertising, check it out. I know I talk about Google on this blog more than I probably should but it really does point to what makes them a success.

They are not afraid of failing and keep trying different things out. Too often we wait until something is perfect or spend months testing something until we know exactly how it will react. This isn't how we should be driving progress/evolution/revolution online, in fact if you live in the test, analyze, understand, tweak and then launch world your long term success will be hindered.

Try things out, make mistakes and learn from the them. The web allows us to do this and react quickly. Your challenge is embrace it and take advantage of the chance you are being given.

Google certainly does.

Google Launches Web Based Version of Google Sky

To continue to build on their suite of imaging tools they have added a web based version of Google Sky to Google Earth, Moon and Mars (I wonder what is next....)

Check it out, you can find it at

Also of interests is the $25 million lawsuit attached to Sky's launch over who came up with the idea in the first place.

Now how can we place Local Ads on this....

Interesting Google Checkout Intergration with Youtube

I may have missed this in the past but this is the first I have seen Google Checkout on a Youtube page.

Contributions are a great way to test it out as the end user is not expecting something back but it does lead to interesting new channels and revenue sources for Youtube. Google Video struggled with their paid program but they learned. Imagine subscription based channels, streaming live video or a library of past movies / shows.

And if you haven't see how Youtube integrates with Apple TV and a couple of other platforms you need to ASAP as it will change how you think Youtube could evolve in the future.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Cool New Community Based Contest (or at least I think it is cool)

We launched a contest today over at that has a community slant to it. We hope it will generate some excitement for our growing community and help a couple of people out with their backyard issues.

So if you need a new backyard (and you live in Canada) check it out and maybe you will be chosen as a winner!

Monday, March 10, 2008

What We Have Known for Awhile - the Banner is Dead

A really interesting study came out from Comscore a couple of weeks back. It is pretty much summarized by this quote:

"the study reveals that a very small group of consumers who are not representative of the total U.S. online population is accountable for the vast majority of display ad click-through behavior."

What the study goes on to say is that a subset of population that represents only 6% of overall online users accounts for 50% of the banner / display clicks. Not only are these people click happy but they skew to the 25-44 age group, have an avg household income of under $40,000 and spend more time online at auction, gambling and career sites. Not exact the best use of advertising dollars.

Now that you have all of the money from your display advertising budgets here are a couple of ideas on where to spend it.
  1. Search - you are not spending enough - trust me nobody is!
  2. Add Social to your site - start building a platform where you can have customer interactions. If you don't know where to start partner with a company like bazaarvoice and just listen.
  3. SEO - you can always make improvements and the easiest next step is to build content that is relevant to your consumer.
  4. Excitement - build something that gets customers coming back everyday and gets them talking about your business
The flip side of the banner argument is that a click is not what we, as marketers, should be measuring as a success event and that targeting the right consumers is what we should focus on. But lets not keep trying to trick ourselves, consumers (and we are included in this group) have learn to tune out banners when surfing. Quick, name the last 3 banner ads you saw online.....

Cool New Feature on Blogger - Blog Roll is updated in Real Time

A neat new feature, that you can see to the left of this post, is something that blogger is calling Blog List, it is essentially a Blog Roll that integrates with Google Reader and other RSS feeds.

So no longer do you have a simple boring Blog Roll but readers that come to your blog (I really wonder what that % is now) will not only see the other blogs you read but get an update on the most recent post.

If you want to add it and you are on blogger, next time you go to your blog log into and head over to the layout tab.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Don’t Be Crazy – You Need to Be in Search

If I told you that you could pay to enter into a conversation with a customer looking for your product or service how much would you pay? Now consider that it is this customer that is coming to you to get the information while they are in the purchase consideration cycle. How much more is that worth?

I bet you would pay a lot, you have a good understanding of your conversion and know based on the questions the customer is asking or the information they are looking for where they are in the purchase cycle.

Now I tell you that the above is what online search is, many of you and your clients all of a sudden loose interest. Don’t be crazy, today (not tomorrow) you need to make search part of your marketing portfolio. If you spend only a $1000 / year in advertising this needs to be one part of your strategy. By using search you can enter into the purchase consideration with the message you want to deliver and best of all you only pay for actual customer interactions.

It doesn’t matter what you sell or where you are in the supply chain you can improve sales by using this tool. Let’s take a manufacturer as an example, say a consumer is looking for a Panasonic HDTV. As Panasonic you want and need to be present, with your retailers, providing information on your offering. If I search Panasonic HDTV I should see an ad from Panasonic that leads to a site providing all of the information that is needed to complete my purchase decision. Is it really worth it, for Panasonic, for customers to go site that is off-brand and not providing them with the information they are looking for? I might even find info on a Sony HDTV that begins to take more mindshare and effects my end decision. I’m sure Panasonic has a site that provides everything I need but if I can’t find the info is it even of use or worth the money that was spent to build it.

Here is the result example and I guess I picked an example that furthers the discussion. Not only does Panasonic not show up in the sponsored ads but none of the Canadian retailers do either, which was a big surprise to me. Now here is where the debate can start, even through Panasonic shows up as the third organic result I feel it is very important to still purchase this term to that you can ensure you are communicating your message and guide the consumer to the information you feel is best suited.

Now this is a simple brand example but take this to the next step where Panasonic could, based on their market and customer understanding, expand the keywords to terms that consumers use when researching, understanding and looking for products. This can be a great way to ensure you are participating with the customer when they are the in purchase consideration cycle so get started.

Based on this example it looks like we have lots of work!